Creating exceptional music is not the only reason why a band enters the music hall of fame. There’s also the general extravagance of the band, their wild (or even witty) behavior, the controversies, and last but not the least — their memorable band logos. In short, their image as a whole plays a huge role.
In fact, some logo designs are so successful that they remain engraved in our memories from the very first moment we see them.
So, what are the characteristics of a memorable logo? What is the formula that guarantees success? Well, come take a look at some of the good, the bad, and the all-time iconic logos of bands to get a better idea.
Rock Band Logos
1. AC/DC Logo
The AC/DC logo is not particularly inventive when it comes to the design, but it compensates with the originality of the band’s name and what it represents.
Created by Bob Defrin and Gerard Huerta, this logo made its appearance only after the fourth album of the band. Anyway, the logo is a clear reference to electricity, namely, the abbreviations for alternating current and direct current; made even more obvious by the lightning bolt that separates them.
Fast, loud, powerful, and dangerous, just like electricity, the logo says it all.
2. Queen Band Logo
The Queen logo, a recognizable emblem designed by Freddie himself, became as iconic as the author’s front teeth. Moreover, it was made right from the get-go and was used for the band’s very first album.
The logo itself is as lavish and as full of details as a royal crest, perhaps even more, as it tries to group many symbols, including the zodiac signs of the band members (namely, Leo, Cancer, and Virgo). Hence, making this one of the most famous band logos on the planet, and we have none other than the frontman of the band, Freddie Mercury, to thank for it.
To describe it briefly, the letter “Q,” along with a crown, takes center stage. Hugging them on either side are two lions with two fairies beneath them and a flaming crab sitting on top of the letter “Q.” Lastly, a majestic phoenix overshadows the whole composition, wrapping up the logo’s iconic look.
3. Kiss Band Logo
Even though at first glance, there’s nothing special about this logo, designed by Ace Frehley, the global success of the band made it iconic.
What’s more, the lightning bolts used instead of the letters “S” at the end of “KISS” resemble the Nazi SS troop symbol, making this one of the most controversial 70s band logos.
However, because the two band members — Simmons and Stanley — are both Jewish, this is regarded merely as a coincidence. And, even if it was deliberate, it would perfectly reflect their provocative stage performances.
Nevertheless, this earned them an alternative, German version of their logo, where the thundering “SS” is depicted as “ZZ.”
4. Nirvana Band Logo
Given the tragic aftermath of many a singer in the grunge rock scene (Kurt Cobain, in particular), the dead, or drunk, smiley face of Nirvana’s logo seems quite eerie now in hindsight.
The creepy image that it portrays is contrasted by the cartoonish, playful style, making a predominantly ironic statement.
Those who are unfamiliar with Nirvana’s logo design, yet know their songs, will be pleasantly surprised as many have even seen it before without actually realizing what it was.
5. Eagles Band Logo
The creators of Hotel California, the Eagles, were not only talented songwriters but also exceptional designers.
Apart from some small remarks, like the fact that that the “S” in eagles resembles a 5, and that the first “A” looks like a Christmas tree, which confuses the eye, this logo was quite progressive for its time (back in the 70s) with its tribal-looking vibe.
Punk Band Logos
6. Sex Pistols Logo
This English punk rock band was composed of young, energetic men that couldn’t be “put in place,” just like the letters in their logo. They are rebellious and live to stick out — to provoke. This logo is so well-fitted for Sex Pistols, that Jamie Reid, the author, deserves a standing ovation.
The monochromatic brand mark also adds to the rebellious punk spirit that, even today, resonates through many a merchandise that carries it proudly.
7. Ramones Band Logo
The design solution for this famous band’s logo resulted probably in more t-shirts being sold than records, as their former manager claimed.
Arturo Vega, the designer and creative director of the band, successfully added several symbols that were dear to the band’s members, like a baseball bat, arrows, and a provocative slogan (Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!) onto the Great Seal of the President of the United States to create one of the most iconic band logos ever.
What’s more, he replaced the olive tree branch with an apple tree branch to indicate the band’s American authenticity and changed the description “President of the United States” with the names of the band members.
In terms of inventiveness, it is not the most original of band logos out there, but the rebellious message it conveys was happily embraced by many.
8. Crass Logo
This British punk rock band wanted to challenge its fans by presenting themselves as a storm of contradictions in their logo.
Namely, the logo encompasses the Christian cross, the nazi swastika, the Union Jack, and the Ouroboros (a snake biting its own tale) — a symbol of self-destruction and the eternal cycle.
In short, there’s a whole lot of power and authority behind these symbols, even if they are not as obvious at first glance. Yet, the monochromatic logo lets the viewers see what they want to see, and lets them provide their own interpretation.
Modern Band Logos
9. Radiohead Logo
This deeply disturbing grinning bear — Radiohead’s logo — has become popular from the moment it first appeared on their album cover Kid A (2000), and understandably so.
Grinning in perfect symmetry, this bear’s contours are nothing more than circles and lines, and yet it is so powerful and creepy at the same time.
10. Panic! At the Disco — The Epitome of an Alternative Band Logo
The new logo of the Panic! At the Disco pop-rock band raised many eyebrows even though no one seems to understand what it’s supposed to mean. Nevertheless, this may well be the point.
All sorts of theories were developed by the online public, creating a buzz that was triggered by the many occult symbols featured on it.
The all-seeing eye at the top, the Star of Ishtar (Venus) on the left, the crescent moon on the right, and in the background a large hazard sign holding it all together; we see what you did there Panic! At the Disco.
11. Take That Band Logo
The logo of this pop-rock boy band is highly distinguishable due to its simplicity, symmetry, and overall, non-aggressiveness. The two “T”s that form a cross of sorts are easily discerned and there’s no grand mystery behind it. Furthermore, the thickness of the font matches the thickness of the circle surrounding it, which makes it pleasing on the eye.
The principle “less is more” certainly applies here.
Best Band Logos
12. The Who Logo
Portraying a bull’s eye-target with an arrow coming from the “O,” this logo is cartoonish, straight to the point, and beautiful to look at. Hence, it comes as no great surprise that even though it was never officially published together with any single from the group, it became a popular emblem featured in thousands of t-shirts and badges.
13. HIM Logo
Whether its a DJ logo, a logo for a boyband, or a simple studio sign, it needs to be memorable. Perhaps the most memorable band logo, this Swedish metal band’s “heartagram” — the amalgam between a heart and a pentagram — still makes the knees weak for fans across the world.
The heartagram blends perfectly with the overall music style of the band (gothic rock) — “a mix of the gentle and the hard,” just as the frontman and designer, Ville Valo, described the logo.
14. The Rolling Stones Logo
John Pasche made a remarkable job with this one, that’s for sure. One of the best band logos out there, if not the best! Apart from the rebellious attitude, as well as the sexual connotations, it also stands for the single thing that no other band in the world has — Mick Jagger’s enormous mouth.
With its cartoonish style, its vivid and contrasting colors (especially red), it seems that this logo has every element needed to make an impression, and what an impression it has made! The red lips and tongue are pretty evocative in and of themselves, but are even stronger when you take color psychology into account.
Best Metal Band Logos
15. Rage Against the Machine Logo
One of the most notorious logos, the raised fist of the Rage Against the Machine band, was in fact designed to make a political statement.
By portraying the clenched fist — the symbol of many a civic movement across history — this band instills the attitude of resistance through their logo, in turn, becoming one of the most emblematic 90s band logos. Painted with the aggressive red-black combination it perfectly embodies the band’s rage against oppression (the machine).
This logo is so powerful that it’s widely used as a graphic way of proclaiming socialistic ideological belonging; the fist — the symbol of solidarity and anti-fascism — and the red five-pointed stars featured in the logo make a clear allusion to communism.
16. Rammstein Band Logo
This alternative metal band has a powerful and shocking brand, and they in turn have a powerful yet somewhat confusing logo; it made many fans scratch their heads in an attempt to find its meaning, especially seeing how this band loves symbolism.
It seems only logical for the logo of Rammstein to be monochromatic as it is; the same could be said for the bolded font, which gives the logo a hard and solid impression that resembles a fortress.
The logo features the Malevich cross (with justified ends) which serves as the “T” in the Rammstein with the letter “R” engraved in it. The “R” rams into the cross in a way, and at the same time, becomes an integral part of it.
It’s also worth noting that the word Rammstein translated from German means a “ramming stone.”
17. Motorhead Logo
Sometimes music logos are simple, sometimes they are detailed artwork. Motorhead’s Snaggletooth definitely falls in the latter category. Definitely one of the richest metal band logos in terms of illustration.
All big bands and brands need powerful and popular logos, and Motorhead is no exception. Joe Petagno, the logo’s designer, stated that the main point when making this logo was the expression of fierceness, power, and violence; the metallic, multi-fanged boar certainly hit the target!
Moreover, the said monochromatic beast featuring spikes, fangs, and chains, also known as Snaggletooth, was perceived as too violent for the late 70s and people wearing the logo were not allowed to enter certain premises.
Worst Band Logos
18. Pearl Jam’s Stickman Logo
The most famous of all Pearl Jam’s designs is the “Stickman” that appeared on their single Alive (1991), probably portraying the singer Eddie Vedder with a childish doodle. Although it’s not your standard, run-of-the-mill logo design, originality is no excuse for this poor design.
It’s so childish that it looks like it was taken from some children’s book, rather than being a cover of a famous grunge rock band’s single. Unlike their musical genius, the band clearly lacked an eye for aesthetics when it comes to design.
19. Tool Band Logo
While it’s clear that this was supposed to be taken as provocative and funny, that was not the reaction this musical band logo got from the public.
Hence, they were obliged to change their logo to a less-provocative, calligraphic version in place of the phallocentric one.
Unfortunately, the latest, seventh version (from 2006), brings little to the table in regards to esthetics. The controversial “centerpiece” is missing from this version, but the “tool” inscription could now easily be confused with “fool.”
20. Dave Matthews Band Logo
The so-called fire dancer logo is too abstract and unsymmetrical to see any commercial success. It may look good on picture, but it is a bad example of a music logo, especially one that plays alternative rock music.
Dave himself came up with this design when he was searching for different styles of band logos to draw.
The logo represents the way the author envisioned his public when they danced to his band’s music, and perhaps, that’s the main issue with this logo; rather than depicting the band directly, it portrays the public instead.
What About Your Band’s Image?
As you can see, there are numerous approaches to go about when crafting band logos. Yet, one in particular, stands out from the crowd — controversy.
The clear depiction of your band’s core philosophy and attitude, sprinkled with a little controversy will certainly lead you to the right graphic solution for your band’s logo. What’s more, with the help of our smart logo maker app, you’ll design the perfect logo for your band in no time at all!