Band Logo: A Complete Guide
This is a complete guide on band logos that should help you understand what you need from your logo and how you should use it. I will explain the difference between lettering and emblem, compare raster and vector formats, tell you why you don’t need a multicolor logo, and give you some practical advice.
Name logo VS emblem
Nowadays, most bands have two types of logos – a name logo (also called “lettering”) and a short logo that can be called an “emblem”, a “sigil” or a “band symbol”. We prefer to call it an emblem.
A name logo is an essential part of a band’s branding, and you cannot do without it. It's the first design thing you need to sort out before starting your online presence or releasing music. It must be simple. It’s usually just a custom-made font with the name of the band. It may have a small graphic element incorporated in it, but it should be very minimal, or otherwise, the logo won’t be versatile, and it becomes hard to use for some purposes.
An emblem, on the other hand, is more of an optional asset. Emblem designs vary from acronyms (initials of the band name) to mascots and symbolic designs. The main requirement is that it must be simple and memorable. You can find a couple of examples of band emblems below:
Emblems are usually used for branding and merch. They work well as profile images, they look good on backdrops and scrims, and they can be used for various merch items. Your emblem must meet the same standards as your logo design (vector, 1 color, etc.).
Hand-drawn logos vs pre-made fonts
Most professional logo designers don’t use pre-made fonts for band logos, but I assume not everyone knows that. Nowadays you can find a lot of fonts that can be used for various purposes including logo design either free of charge or for a small licensing fee. Some of them are cool and would work perfectly for album titles, posters, and other stuff. However, using a pre-made font for a band logo is not ideal. The main reason for that is that there is a high probability of someone else using it, which can lead to similar results, even if the font was customized. So, if someone offers you a cheap logo, there is a high chance they will use fonts to make quick designs. Try to find a professional designer who can draw your lettering by hand.
Vector vs raster format
There are two most common types of digital images - vector and raster.
A raster image (also called “bitmap”) is made up of individual pixels (tiny dots of color) arranged in a grid. Each pixel has a specific color value, and when all the pixels are combined, they create an overall image. Because raster graphics are made up of pixels, they have a fixed resolution and can become pixelated or blurry when scaled up.
The most common formats of raster/bitmap images are JPG and PNG. However, of those two, only the PNG format can have a transparent background and therefore is preferred for logos. Raster images can be opened and edited in any graphics editor.
A vector image is comprised of points, paths, curves, and geometric shapes. Unlike raster graphics, vector graphics have no fixed resolution and can be resized, stretched, and otherwise manipulated without any quality loss. Vector format is commonly used for logos, icons, emblems, and less detailed designs intended to be printed in a big size.
Vector logos are typically created using software like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW and are saved in file formats like AI and EPS.
A bit of practical advice:
- When you order a logo, make sure you get the final design in vector format. Vector files can be easily converted into raster graphics. Converting a raster logo into a vector format is a complicated process that requires time and skill.
- If you have your logo available in raster and vector formats (PNG and EPS, for example), then use the PNG file for any digital purposes and keep the vector for printing on shirts, scrims, backdrops, and other big-size items.
- For the raster (PNG) version of the logo, the optimal resolution is between 3000px and 4000px by the longer side. This should cover pretty much all your digital needs.
- Make sure your PNG logo has a transparent background. Otherwise, the background will have to be removed every time the logo is used for album covers, posters, and other stuff. You can have additional files with the logo on different backgrounds, but the main logo file that you send to other people like designers and promoters must have a transparent background.
- Vector formats don’t allow the use of complex gradients and certain special effects (drop shadow, glow, etc.). If it’s important for you to have such effects, a raster logo may be more appropriate for you than a vector one.
1-color vs multicolor logos
In corporate design, the use of color for company logos is quite normal and it helps to make them stand out better. In the music industry, however, 1-color logos are a common standard. There are reasons for that.
First, it makes your logo versatile. It’s going to be used on gig posters, album covers, and other graphic materials, where it must be edited to fit the aesthetic of the artwork. Editing of a 1-color logo is simple. The color can be changed in a few clicks. The texture can be applied with minimum effort. Editing a multicolor logo is a pain and it requires much more work.
Secondly, if your logo has complex gradients and certain special effects (drop shadow, glow, etc.), then it’s not possible to convert it into vector format, and therefore big-size printing is going to be a problem. Printing on shirts using the screen printing method also requires limited use of color, which makes printing logos with complex color effects impossible.
A bit of practical advice:
- Your main logo files must be 1-color to eliminate any problems in the future. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a few extra versions that are colored and textured according to your taste and the visual aesthetics of the band.
- Don’t ask your logo designer to add effects like drop shadow, glow, or bevel and emboss. Such effects must be added to the logo only when it’s used for a specific graphic material (poster, album cover, etc.). Your logo won’t be versatile if you have such effects in the original logo file.
Texture is the surface effect applied to the logo that alters the feel and look of the design. In the case of the band logo design, it's usually used to give the logo a worn-out rough look. There are two main types of texturing:
1. The texturing can be done by erasing some bits and pieces from the logo. This method is usually applied by logo designers, so the final design can be exported in vector format as a 1-color design. This method allows giving a logo a rougher look without adding extra colors.
2. Another way to apply texture is to add a color image over the shape of the logo. This way, you can achieve a more interesting look, but your logo will no longer be a 1-color design. Moreover, this method can only be applied to raster logos (PNG and JPG files). This technique is suitable if you want to edit your logo for a specific purpose like cover art or a gig poster.
A bit of practical advice:
- Texture is an artistic choice. You may prefer to have a clean logo, there is nothing bad about that. Trends change.
- Textured logos are usually more problematic to use for embroidery, so, if you think you will want to have embroidery done someday, maybe go with a clean logo or try to get both versions.
- If you want to have both a clean version of the logo and a textured one, tell your logo designer that before finalizing the logo. Most logo artists can do that for a small extra fee.
- Many bands want to have their logo with a chrome or metal texture, but it’s actually a very bad idea since this can only be done by adding color texture, so your logo becomes multicolor and not versatile for many purposes. It’s okay to have it stylized with metal texture for a specific poster or cover art, but don’t do that to your original logo.
I hope this guide helped you to understand your logo needs a little bit better. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us via FB, Instagram, or the contact form on our website. If you would like to order a custom logo or emblem design from our studio, check out this page - BAND LOGO DESIGN
Vladyslav Tsarenko | CEO at All4band Design