A great band logo makes everybody happy. It gives music fans a ready symbol by which they can express their undying love, while providing bands with a logo they can plaster onto mountains of merchandise. The best logos become synonyms for the bands they represent, and often provide a visual representation of the sound of the band in question. Here are 12 that stand out from the crowd:
The Rolling Stones – The Stones’ logo is the Nike Swoosh of Rock – it’s instantly identified with the group the world over. The fact that it resembles a certain lead singer doesn’t detract from its considerable charm.
The Grateful Dead – The ‘steal your face’ design is just one of many signifiers the group has used throughout their long, strange trip. Dancing bears, skulls and roses, various turtles, and a cornucopia of other colorful images have covered their merchandise, but it’s the skull with the lightning bolt that instantly reads Dead.
Black Flag – Using just four simple bars, Black Flag’s logo completely conveys the hardass, take-no-prisoners edge that runs through all their music. Artist Raymond Pettibon is the brother of group founder Greg Ginn.
Ramones – Da Brudders’ logo features a suspiciously Presidential-looking seal that features an eagle holding a baseball bat and a ribbon bearing the inscription ‘Hey Ho Let’s Go’. Perfect for the first family of punk…
KISS – Disclaimer: my brother and I both marched in the KISS Army, so I’ve been under the sway of these four letters for decades. The band took this logo to the bank – literally, with one of the most aggressive and successful merchandising efforts in the history of music.
Public Enemy – PE makes serious hip-hop about serious issues, so this logo works like a charm. Every element of the group – from their dancers’ fake Uzis to the Bomb Squad’s production to this emblem – screams revolution. If you’re not part of the solution, you better duck.
AC/DC – The lightning bolt and pronged type brilliantly and simply pay off the electrical theme of the band’s name. But the typeface is also imbued with a middle-ages, Latin gravitas that fits the band’s heavy sound.
Dead Kennedys – This logo owes more than a passing debt of inspiration to the scratched ‘A’ that stands as the symbol for anarchy. Which is just about right for any band fronted by funnyman and anarchist-wannabe Jello Biafra.
The Who – The group’s sound is based in the mid-60’s mod movement, and so is this classic logo. The arrow pushing upward out of the ‘O’ gives this logo a feeling of motion and freedom (or at least that’s what I’d say if I were an art director).
Ween – It’s hard to tell whether Ween’s logo (named ‘Boognish’) has been sniffing glue or is just rocking out. Either way, it’s an excellent expression of the fun that’s to be had from this band of would-be brothers.
Sex Pistols – Artist Jamie Reid’s design work for the Sex Pistols provided the band with a graphically interesting look that would be become visually synonymous with an entire genre of music. The ransom-note style lettering conveys both the DIY philosophy of punk and the menace to be found within the music.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Chili Peppers’ asterik is a simple but strong design element that the group has employed in a variety of ways. Created on a whim by lead singer Anthony Keidis (who’d been asked for a logo by the group’s promotions team) it is often referred to as the “angel’s asshole”.
There are a lot of great band logos out there. Which did I overlook??