We all know that the name of a band can play a big role in that band’s success. But figuring out how to name a band can be an arduous, stressful chore. So how do you come up with band name ideas? Preferably ones that don’t suck? What should you do when you sit down to learn how to come up with a band name? And where do you get name ideas for a band from, anyway?
You want a band name that stands out, draws people in, and represents the band’s sound. In other words, you want something unique and fantastic. So let’s explore the basics of how to name a band, and examine the do’s and don’ts involved in the band-naming process along the way.
Your goals when coming up with band name ideas
Before we can really explain how to come up with a band name, we should first understand what it is that we want the name of a band to accomplish. So let’s take a look at a few basic goals to take into consideration while generating your band name ideas:
- It should be memorable. Great name ideas for a band will be the ones people can remember after a show
- It should be easy for someone to say and spell. Band names that are difficult to pronounce or have a weird spelling won’t usually stick with people
- It should reflect your music and persona. You want the band name to “sound” like the music you’re playing
- It shouldn’t get you sued. You’ll want to run internet searches to make sure nobody else is actively using that same band name, at least within your area
- It should be marketable, provided your band has aspirations that involve earning money anyway. If a name is offensive, difficult to remember, or just plain weird, you’re steepening the stairs for your future music marketing efforts, and that can affect your name ideas for a band.
Where can you find name ideas for a band?
Perhaps the most difficult part of coming up with a good name for a band is the ideation process—coming up with ideas for band names. A struggle that’s definitely compounded by all of those goals we mentioned a bit ago.
Some traditional sources of inspiration include:
- Unique or peculiar phrases from media (books, news stories, movies, etc.). For instance, Damn the Kid found their name in a short story collection
- Unique phrases a band member overheard
- Local references, like street names or landmarks
- References to something else, like historical events, sports, a writer, another band, etc. For example, Kaiser Chiefs are named after a soccer team, and Radiohead are named after the Talking Heads song Radio Head
- Inside jokes or similar personal phrases. I was in a band called Piso Mojado, an inside joke about how wet floor signs could be used for free advertising
One thing we don’t recommend is using a band name generator. Some folks see them as an easy solution for how to come up with a band name, but a lot of the time, their suggestions don’t sound like the name of a band you’d ever really want to go see. You want to name a band something you, your bandmates, and your fans can connect with. “Olympic Alloy with the Guiltless Atrocity” (a band name we found just now with a band name generator) isn’t it.
Name a band as a band
It’s always a good idea to involve your bandmates to help come up with the name of a band, too. After all, they’re your creative partners in all of this, and should get some say in how the band name develops, right?
Brainstorming sessions are a tried and true method of developing name ideas for a band. Get your bandmates together, grab some writing stuff, and jot down every name idea suggested by anyone. Be sure to write down every name, too, even the names you or others don’t particularly like. You may revisit that name later and find that it has grown on you.
A similar idea regarding how to come up with a band name is the “long-form brainstorm.” Create a blank document in Google Docs and give the link to everyone in the band. Make sure you give everyone editing permission. Now, everyone in the band can throw band name ideas into the document right from their phones, and over time you’ll hopefully generate a decent list of potential band names to choose from.
The last step when you name a band? Collect some input!
There’s one last thing you’ll want to keep in mind when you sit down to figure out how to come up with a band name. You and your bandmates are ultimately coming up with a band name inside of a bubble. You all might love a particular band name, but that doesn’t mean it’ll resonate with others. And you do want to name a band something that’s marketable, right?
Once you’ve whittled down your list of band name ideas, consider shopping them around. Ask friends and family what they think of these various band name ideas. You might even go so far as to create a poll using SurveyMonkey or Google Forms and gather some feedback that way. You want the name of a band to be something people dig, and getting ten or more people to help narrow down those band name ideas can help a ton.
This guide hopefully explained how to come up with a band name, on paper anyway. But most people find it pretty challenging to actually sit down and name a band. So our closing piece of advice? Have fun with this process, take your time, and try to avoid settling. It can often take time to name a band something truly unique. Don’t rush the process, involve others wherever applicable, and you’ll find some great name ideas for a band over time.