It is undeniable fact that when we talk about musical CDs, vinyls and posters graphic design and music go hand in hand. Logo design and branding of the various music bands and singers seem to create the perception of music industry as a corporate enterprise. The distinctive corporate identity is essential for every kind of business aiming to be successful and recognizable, including music as well. Logo helps us to remember a product and in music’s context context it is an essential element that allows us to visualize not only the musicians’ identity but also their sound. Here is a scissors-and-paste of some of the most iconic logo designs in music history.
AC/DC‘s logo has been used for more than 30 years and is highly recognizable and popular among the rock fans. It was designed by Bob Defrin, art director of Atlantic Records VP. The concept is based on Gothic lettering, that gives “weight” and resembles to the letters, found in Gutenberg’s Bible, which, on the other hand, is well-considered reference to the semi-biblical title of the album “Let there be rock”, where the logo appears first. The meaning is as it follows: ac = alternating current, dc = direct current. It makes a reference to the electric signals and voltages and that explains where the voltage bolt in the logo comes from.
Aerosmith‘s logo was designed by the band’s ex-guitarist Ray Tabano, who was a member of the group only for 1 year. His contribution to the band’s logo design turned out to be crucial. It first appears in 1974 on the album “Get your wings”. And yes – the logo looks exactly as the title of the album sounds: stylish black and white caption, with a large letter A spreading wings in the background and revealing a small star in the negative space. Over the years it has been modified a little but the main concept remains. Well done, Ray!
The distinctive features of Iron Maiden‘s logo has classified it as one of the best in the rock music history. The letters’ shapes are very particular, especially the “o”, which origins from the classic circle stylized as a triangle. This style is also applied on the other letters. Iron Maiden has sold more merchandise T-shirts than any other metal band, and probably the fault for that should be blamed on the iconic logo and its creator – Eddie The Head, the band’s mascot.
The lead guitarist of KISS Ace Frehley created the band’s logo and appears for the first time on their second album “Hotter than hell”. Frehley designed the last two letters as lightning bolt-style S’s and it was well accepted everywhere but in Germany. The problem there was that Nazi Germany’s Schutzstaffel used a similarly stylized “SS” logo. In order to avoid bad publicity in Germany, they changed the logo so that it looks more like a double SS and less like a lightning bolt.
Yes, this is the Rolling Stone‘s famous logo and no, it’s not Andy Warhol’s work (as it is widely considered). The iconic tongue-and-lips sign was designed by the English artist John Pasche in 1970, when he was an art student. Many people wrongly suppose that the logo is inspired by Mick Jagger’s famous mouth. Actually the inspiration comes from the Hindu goddess Kali, who usually is illustrated with her tongue stuck out. Since its creation the image appears on every RS album.
Nirvana‘s smiley face logo is recognisable not only by the band’s fans, but from every music lover around the world. Under the stylised lettering of Nirvana, incorporating the Onyx typeface, there is a smiling face with crossed out eyes (or missing eyes as it is considered by some designers) and a slobbering smile. There is a whole bunch of rumours regarding the meaning of the smiley and of course the most common theories are far away from the truth. Some people think that the smiling face represents Kurt Cobain‘s interpretation of the expression his fan crowd makes when he performs. Other consider that the drooling face is Cobain’s attempt to draw Axl Rose‘s smile – probably the most stupid theory you will ever hear about a rock band’s logo, since there is nothing in common between Axl’s smiling face and Nirvana’s logo. The real inspiration for the band’s smiling face comes from the insignia of The Lusty Lady strip club in downtown Seattle. The yellow color of the logo symbolises happiness and energy, while the black background represents the appeal for power and weightiness, typical for the rock bands.
Guns N’ Roses
Skull, crossed guns, roses and colors – this logo rings the bell for a heavy rock band to everyone who sees it with no need the band’s name and the music’s genre to be pointed out. Slash, the guitarist of Guns N’ Roses is considered to be the one who has hand drawn the skull-guns-n-roses logo, which appears on all of the group’s merchandise in the last 20 years. However, the lead vocalist Axl Roses denies Slash’s credit and gives it to the tattoo artist Bill White. The red, yellow, green, black and silver colors represent passion, rebellion, supremacy, power and energy.
The sign that always identified Metallica was created by the band’s guitarist James Hetfield. The shape of the letters is associated with a heavy metal band and the black and silver colours contribute to that perception. The first letter “M” has an extraordinary look which goes the same with the last letter “A”. The other letters are more simple but remain stylish.
These logos are highly popular and though the credits go to their good designers, they are something more than just a well done job. They turned out to be the signs that make a long lasting impression and stick on the minds of music lovers. They are well considered with the character of the music and musicians they represent, which pushed them to start their own life, with their own stories (AC DC) and myths (Mick Jagger’s mouth).
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