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March 22, 2007

Brand Naming: Characteristics of a Band Name

The Seattle Times has a great article about how band names are in many ways brand names. It shows how many famous bands actually got their names and passes judgment on many of them.

Robert_Trujillo_metallica.jpgl started to wonder if there might be a correlation between a band's ultimate success and whether it has one, two or three elements to its name. Maybe having a simple, memorable name like, say, The Beatles or Coldplay or The Who is a good idea; yet so many of the really big names are comprised of two words: Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Green Day or Sex Pistols.

Now, compare these to those bands with three or more elements in their names: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Three Dog Night, and Strawberry Alarm Clock.

I don't have the numbers to back it up, but I would say that the bigger the band you are hoping to be, the shorter your name should be. I would bet one or two-word band names are doing far better than the rest. And I am pretty sure that the two-word name gets a lot of support because often times these are, well, musician’s real names, like Alanis Morissette, Phil Collins, Cat Stevens.

Madonna.jpgJust remember that Sting and Madonna combine the best of all worlds: a personal name in one word. On the other hand, naming your band with an entire sentence is the kiss of death.

Speaking of Kiss, shorter names, in my opinion, will be easier to build into brand name extensions after the music's over: just look at how Kiss is doing with its new fragrance.

Hidden Track points out that some really bad brand names have actually been appended to some really good bands. Yes, Umphrey’s McGee may be the worst band name ever, but it is supposed to be a great band.

The AV Club has posted the worst band names of 2006, which includes Poofinger and Rigor Phallus. If these aren’t bad enough, UFOMystic has a blog up looking for “good UFO-related names for bands”: The Abductees and Betty and the Hills caught my eye, but not in a good way.

KISS_in_concert_Boston.jpgIf you are interested, why not check out The Band Names site for more information (where you will find out what UB40 means, or why Foo Fighters is a historically relevant name). If you are in a rock band in need of a name that might become a huge brand name tomorrow, just go on over to the Band Name Generator.

Just be careful: if your band name is too good, like Metallica’s, then some couple may name their child after it.

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Posted by William Lozito at March 22, 2007 9:08 AM
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The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is an excellent example, since they tried going by a shorter name: The Dirt Band. I don't know whether they stuck with the shorter version, or even if they're still around, however.

Chicago's original name was Chicago Transit Authority.

And of course Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship and finally just Starship.

Nice examples, Bob.

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