The power and meaning behind a logo is well known, and nowhere is this more true than in the music industry. Here we look at fifteen iconic band logos that continue to evoke a singular passion in their fans even after many of the bands behind them have since dissolved.
Guest post by Samuel Caverly
Unlike other musical genres, rock has its gods. Guitar players and vocalists of legend, infamous managers and glorified producers populate the dark and smoky backstages where miracles happened in front of hundreds of thousands of people.
The leather-clad good days of rock have left behind powerful memories that continue to inspire people everywhere, especially musicians and artists. These memories can easily be evoked with just one image – a band’s logo. Beyond being mere styled words, a band’s logo can awaken the passion within its fans even after decades have passed.
Undoubtedly, a logo carries power and meaning, especially when it is connected to emotions. Similar but entirely different from the brand of a company, a band’s logo can be a source of inspiration for teenagers dreaming of making it big, up-and-coming bands and even designers looking to create a memorable new logo themselves. By studying the logos of the following 15 iconic rock bands, secrets will be unveiled.
If rock music has its gods, then the members of AC/DC are without a doubt part of that divine group. Reaching new heights in popularity and number of fans, the band has used the same logo for more than 30 years. Recognizable even among people who are not rock fans, the Gothic-lettered logo is a reference to their biblical-titled first album – “Let there be rock”. The name itself stands for the electrical signals and high voltages that create the thunder.
Nirvana’s logo keeps the same simplicity in the font as seen in AC/DC and other older rock bands, this time in an Onyx typeface. The most important part of the logo, however, is the smiling face with the crossed-out eyes. The center of many wild theories, the face was actually inspired by a strip club in downtown Seattle. Moreover, the yellow and black mix of colors represents happiness and energy coupled with power.
Switching from the past to present, the interesting logo of the nu metal band Slipknot is entirely different than that of AC/DC and other rock bands. The clear-cut Gothic lines have been replaced by a messy, rugged and cluttered group of letters that are fraught with cuts and sharp twists along the body. This was meant to play on the band’s hellish and mysterious image, one that could be easily applied to merchandise.
Still powerful today, Metallica’s logo is no doubt part of the reason why the band is one of the most commercially successful heavy metal bands in history. Combining a simple yet spikey lettering, the font, called “Pastor of Muppets”, was specifically designed for the band, while the silver on a black background is representative of metal music.
5. The Who
Created back in 1964, the logo of The Who has a classic look that embraces British identity through the use of the Royal Air Force’s target-style framing the band’s name. Masculinity also seeps out of the logo due to the arrow which, coupled with the letter “o”, creates the gender symbol for male.
6. The Doors
Geometric-looking and added with an italicized “the” at the front, the logo of The Doors is representative of the trippy hippie culture of the late 1960s. Due to the heavy in meaning design, the band never needed an extra symbol – the logo was already complete.
7. The XX
If simplicity is key to logo success, The XX are definite proof of it. With a simple logo based off an even simpler name, the band is immediately eye-catching. With subtle variations of color and shading, mystery and excitement envelop their every appearance and create an instantly recognizable image.
8. The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones’ logo is so widely known that it has sunk back into popular culture. As such, some people who are familiar with it do not even know its origin. Designed in 1971 by John Pasche, the logo is said to have been inspired by Mick Jagger’s full and expressive lips. Lacking the usual dark look of rock bands, the logo was even more widely popular.
The story of the Misfits’ logo is one directed by commercial success. Appearing on the bands’ first single, the image was hugely popular and was soon adopted by the band as its mascot, signifying the importance of horror imagery in their identity. Aside from the face, the lettering is also designed to integrate into the same horror-type setting.
Designed by band member Anthony Kiedis, the symbol at the center of the RHCP logo was the subject of debates among the fans for a prolonged period of time. The questions were answered when the artist himself admitted that the eight-pronged asterisk was just an idea he had for when the label asked for a promotional logo. One conclusion that can be drawn is that the best logos don’t necessarily have deeper meanings, they just need to give the impression that they do.
11. Led Zeppelin
Another band that has been made part of the rock pantheon of deities, Led Zeppelin’s logo is said to be inspired by William Rimmer’s 19th century work Evening (Fall of Day). However, it was only after five years of existence that the band will present itself under this logo.
As far as rock legends go, KISS is as high as one can reach. Simple and with straight, full, runic letters, the band’s logo created controversy at the time due to the double S lettering that was reminiscent of the Nazi SS insignia. For that reason, the band’s merchandise in Germany was edited, replacing the S’s with “ZZ”. In terms of color, the red-and-yellow mix is supposed to portray the band’s lively and rich in pyrotechnics performance.
13. Pink Floyd (I)
Any enumeration of memorable rock band logos would be incomplete without Pink Floyd, as would any talk of the best rock bands in history. There are two Pink Floyd logos that are extremely widely known. The first is the writing-based logo that is associated with the album The Wall. Rebellious and with paint-like stains at the end, the band’s name was drawn up the “wall”.
14. Pink Floyd (II)
The second logo of the band is connected to their eight released album, The Dark Side of the Moon. The image illustrates light passing through a prism, while the triangle symbolizes thought and ambition. Both logos have been identified with the band and have become part of pop culture.
15. Linkin Park
Reminding of the of the old rock band logos through the sharp, straight lines and tight typeface, Linkin Park’s logo perhaps best embodies their identity. While more rock-oriented at first, their logo was replaced by the “LP” circled symbol once the band moved away from the rock genre and closer to pop.
Without a doubt, a band’s logo represents more than a commercial tag. It is a legacy and a code through which fans recognize each other. For that reason, a logo cannot be changed without deeper changes within the band itself, either through a band member leaving or an entire shift in genre, as was the case with Linkin Park.
While the rightly designed and chosen logo will last through time and become part of pop culture, and thus human history, the wrong logo will be forgotten and treated as just another commercial mark intended to sell shirts.