You’ve just formed a music band and can’t wait to start writing and playing songs with your buddies. But before you start hitting the road and hustling for gigs, it’s a good idea to firm up your band’s visual identity.
In other words, what look will your band have?
Creating a visual identity for your band helps listeners and fans connect with you at a glance, and also helps separate your band from the sea of amateur musicians. If you want to make it big in the future, you absolutely can’t afford to skip this step.
With this in mind, here are 5 tips on defining a strong visual identity for your band.
1. Use your genre to define your look
Every fan of a particular music genre has certain expectations of bands—whether it’s the way they dress, their body language or the colors they use.
So if you’re struggling to decide what your band’s visual identity should be, check out what other bands in your genre are doing. They might just provide some useful inspiration!
For example, the visual identities of pop-punk and rock bands tend to have high-energy imagery with loud fonts and bold colors. Band members may wear black, sport tattoos and piercings and even adopt signature hand signs.
On the other hand, jazz bands may use sleek fonts and retro-looking imagery in their logos to give off a chill vibe. Jazz players often also wear sunglasses to take their coolness to another level.
Talk with your fellow band members about their favorite bands in your genre, and identify the standout features of these bands’ visual identities. Then, think about how you can combine elements of these to create a signature look for your own band.
2. Add something unique to your visual identity
That said, you don’t want to blindly follow what other bands have already done. You want to be seen to be marching to your own beat, rather than being a copycat of another established band.
So after you’ve done your research on the visual identities of other bands, and started putting your own visual identity together, ask yourself:
What is one unique twist that you can add to differentiate your band from everyone else’s?
This twist can be as simple as using a color choice that isn’t common in your genre, or wearing an unorthodox piece of attire during performances. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ways of showcasing your band’s personality!
As an example, check out the band Kiss. When performing, all its members have white painted faces and sport eye-catching black eye makeup.
And once you’ve gotten familiar with their visual style, you will be able to spot their band from a mile away. Now that’s a really effective visual identity.
3. Don’t go overboard
When working on your band’s visual identity, it can be tempting to add lots of different elements to it to help set your band apart.
You might be thinking: “Everyone else is using at most two colors and fonts for their logos. So I’m going to use five colors for mine, and also make every single word in my logo a different font. Will that help us stand out, or what?!”
Well sure it will…but possibly for the wrong reasons.
The more things you add to your visual identity, the higher chance there is of everything clashing and looking like a terrible jumbled-up mess.
Instead, keep things simple and memorable. For example, rock band Linkin Park has changed its logo a few times over the years, but it has always been a stylized form of the band’s initials, “LP.”
No over-the-top visual elements. Just a clean, instantly recognizable logo that fans love.
4. Keep your look consistent
After you’ve decided on your band’s visual identity, you’ll need to stick with it.
This is because your visual identity is what listeners and fans will associate your band with. If you were to drastically change your signature look, your fans may get confused and start to wonder:
“Why the different look? Are you still the same band, or have you changed? Should I still be following you, or…?”
So as far as possible, resist the urge to constantly change your visual identity according to a particular day’s whims and fancies.
You may want to tweak certain elements for a particular campaign or gig—and that’s totally fine—but you generally shouldn’t deviate too much from the look that you’ve settled on.
Otherwise, you might as well have not bothered with establishing a visual identity in the first place, right?
5. Promote your visual identity everywhere
Now here’s the fun part: promoting your visual identity.
Because you’ve taken the time to carefully curate a unique look for your band. Are you going to just do nothing with it? Of course not.
This involves applying your visual identity on not just your performance attire, but also on your:
- Band logos and posters
- Band website
- Album covers
- Social media posts
- Gig schedules
And so on.
All this will take some graphic design skills. And as a musician, you might be more familiar with using drumsticks than a digital pen.
But the good news is that learning graphic design has never been easier nowadays, thanks to the Internet.
Graphic design platforms such as PosterMyWall offer a whole range of graphic design tutorials, covering topics from adding tables to posters—which is perfect for your gig schedules—to more advanced techniques, such as adding color overlay effects to elevate the look of your band posters.
If you follow the tutorials diligently, you’ll be producing awesome graphics for your band before you know it!
Your band’s look is as crucial as the music you play
Your music style defines the sound of your band, while your visual identity defines your band’s look. Don’t be too preoccupied with creating great music that you neglect to create a signature look for your band!
Start off by referencing the visual identities of other bands in your genre, before adding your own spin to create a truly unique look. At the same time, keep it simple and apply it consistently wherever it is being promoted.
Do your visual identity well, and you will have a signature look that represents your band for months and years to come.