Your band name and your brand identity
When marketing professionals talk about branding, they're referring to a company or organization presenting a clear, unique, and consistent message about what it stands for while leaving a lasting positive image in the minds of its customers and the market.
As branding relates to your band and the way fans perceive you, it really includes everything you do – from the identity you create to your musical style, from your personality and image to your online marketing and persona.
If you are re-inventing a current project or starting a new band, the name you choose is an incredibly important consideration in building your brand. It's not rocket science to understand that your band name will be stamped on all your products (CDs, t-shirts, hats, etc.) as well as your website, social media pages, business cards, and road cases.
A great name won’t make or break your band, but a loser can doom you out of the gates. Your band name is how people will recognize and discuss you, and it will trigger a series of emotions and associations when your fans see or hear it.
Here are eight things to consider when coming up with a band name.
1. Think imagery and mood
Your band name should reflect an image and mood that aligns with your vision and signals the type of product and genre your audience might expect. At its best, it will help fans immediately understand what you are all about. For example, DJ/producer Ryan Raddon chose the stage name Kaskade to fit with the flowing sounds and powerful textures he creates when performing.
2. Be unique and memorable
Even if you’re using your given name, consider making it more stylized. William James Adams, Jr. – AKA Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas – uses his first name separated into three words as a creative alternative for his stage moniker.
3. Make it adaptable
As with anything, there are exceptions, but your name should be short enough (or be able to appear as an acronym) to fit on merchandise including T-shirts, hats, and stickers. Trent Reznor denies that Nine Inch Nails has any deep meaning (among other things, it has been suggested it's the length of the nails used to crucify Jesus). Reznor says he just wanted a name that sounded cool and looked good as an abbreviation on his merchandising.
4. Make it easy to spell, read, and pronounce
Your name is intended to make you memorable and recognizable. Anything with an overly strange spelling or something difficult to read or pronounce may be working against you. And while creating your own unique spelling could be cool and even make it more memorable (e.g. Korn with a “K”), don't make it too weird and difficult to spell (I'm looking at you Lynyrd Skynyrd).
5. Legalize it
Avoid common phrases or names that are likely in use, and search the web and the US Patent and Trademark Office to see if your proposed name is available. There are also companies like Thomson Compumark that can conduct a more thorough search, though this can get very expensive.
6. Search by domain name
A domain name is the URL of your website, as in YourNameHere.com. If someone is already using that domain name, you may want to consider something else. Check for availability by using a service like Network Solutions or GoDaddy.
7. Be inventive
Inventing a word is one way to create something truly unique. Lars Ulrich came up with the word Metallica when thinking of names for a friend’s metal magazine. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ name came by tweaking the word "Boston," the city in which the band was formed, while also hinting about their brassy ska sound.
8. Hit your target
A consideration that can be helpful in naming your band is your target audience. Reflect on their psychographic characteristics – their interests, opinions, and activities – and find something that will appeal. Green Day chose its name to connect with the rebellious attitude of punk rockers by using the slang used by San Francisco youth to describe smoking pot all day.
Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician, Business Basics For Musicians, and The Five Star Music Makeover (published by Hal Leonard Books). Get these books at any fine online store in both physical or digital format. NOTICE: Any use or reprint of this article must clearly include all copyright notices, author’s name, and link to BobbyBorg.com.