"To design is to communicate clearly, by whatever means you can control or master." -Milton Glaser
Having a band logo is like having a name tag. It offers you a way to introduce your band to listeners. It offers a way for fans to identify you on a show flyer and connect to you by wearing it on a t-shirt. Like designer, Milton Glaser, says, it offers a means of communication that you cannot get through any other medium.
When it comes to designing your logo, you have to consider what it is you're trying to say, how you want to say it, and how you want it to be interpreted. As a start, these four tips can help spark some ideas in your mind.
Make it doodle-able
Here's a quick test when you wonder if your logo will stick: Think about the kid in history class who is doodling on his notes. Make a logo that can be easily replicated, and people are more likely to recognize it and recreate it. For you, that's free advertising! If fans can't doodle it, it's likely they'll forget it.
When designing, consider straight lines and simple shapes as the core elements of your logo. Something I see a lot in the heavy music scene: a lot of bands want to use the most aggressive font that will look badass on a t-shirt when designing their logo. But, I'll be the first to tell you, I have no idea who's on the bill when I see those logos on a show flyer. (Please reference any of the memes about metal logos for additional support for this argument.) Make sure your logo is personal and unique to your band, while also being functional.
Consider a graphic as well as a wordmark
Graphics often fit better on a sticker or a t-shirt. They're quite literally the "iconic" part of your logo. If you can, have a version on file that is just the graphic, and another version that includes your wordmark. Trust me, both will come in handy, and it's always best to have the ability to adapt your collateral to any situation.
The show promoter will ask for your wordmark without a logo, and your t-shirt company may ask for your logo without a wordmark. Sometimes, they'll ask for a combination of the two, and if you're prepared, they're likely to work with you again.
Keep your brand strategy in mind
Your logo should be a reflection of your message and brand. This can be reflected in the font choice for your wordmark, in the color scheme you choose for your logo, in the simplicity or complexity of your design, etc. Find creative ways to express your band's image through your logo.
This design will likely be seen on multiple merch items, on promotional materials, and anything that has to do with your band. Make it count. This is the listener's first impression of your band. You can make someone see something more easily than you can make them hear something, for the most part. Make them want to know more about your music...
Make it timeless
When thinking through your logo design, it's best if you can come up with something that is not album-specific. The longer you can plan to use your logo, the more established your brand will become with your fans. Obviously, bands can change their logo or come up with additional graphics for a new album, but while you're starting to establish yourself in the industry, it's best to stick to one logo and push it hard.
A few other tips to keep in mind when designing your band's logo:
Be sure to create or request a vectorized image (EPS or SVG). This is the best type of file to send promoters, apparel and merch companies, and industry professionals, as they can size your logo to any scale, whether it's a show flyer, a t-shirt, or a large banner.
Similarly, try to have black, white, and full-color versions of your logo on file. This offers plenty of options, depending on background color and other design elements.
Always send files with a transparent background when you can. It saves designers an extra step, and they will appreciate your professionalism.