Wondering how to come up with a band name idea that is memorable, meaningful, and unique?
In today’s fast-paced music world where a solid online presence is all-important, it’s even more crucial than ever to formulate the perfect name that ticks all of the boxes. A name that you can imagine 10,000 fans all chanting at the same time!
You need a band name idea that stands out from the crowd, is easy to discover online, and resonates well within your specific genre. Oh, and no one else should be using it or anything similar already.
A tall order i’m sure you’ll agree, but here is a selection of easy-to-implement tips and methods which should really help you to dial in that all-powerful winning title! Making a band name is easy, let’s find out how…
1. Try A Band Name Generator
This is a slightly controversial one, as a band name generator is a completely random method of coming up with a band name. As a result, 95% of the ideas they spit out will likely be bizarre and nonsensical!
However, they require almost zero effort, and you may get lucky and hit gold with an incredibly unique name that you would have never come up with on your own.
At the very least they should provide enough inspiration to set you on your way down the path to a solid name. Give one a go on your lunch break – what’s the worst that could happen?
I scoured the web and cherry-picked a few of the best ones to save you wasting your time trying the (many!) terrible apps. Check out my guide to the best band name generators.
And you don’t have to rely solely on band name generators, as other options such as business name creators can also work great.
A number of artists including Post Malone and Childish Gambino have come up with their names using these generators, so there’s no reason why they can’t work for you as well!
2. Invent Unique Spellings
Once you have a few alternative band name ideas that you like, it could be a good idea to take one of the words and give it a unique or unusual spelling to help differentiate the name.
For example, a band called The Laughs could become The Laffs. Or The Cookie Cutters might become The Kookie Kutters, or The Cuki Cutters.
Here are a few other simple ideas you can try:
- Swap the letter ‘s’ for a ‘z’
- Swap the letter ‘i’ for a ‘y’
- Swap the letter ‘u’ for a ‘v’
- Remove a letter entirely
- Double up a letter
There is also a great website called Alternate Spelling Finder which will give you a list of unique spellings for a given word.
Linkin Park named themselves after Santa Monica’s Lincoln Park but tweaked the spelling in order to get the website domain. Scottish pop band Chvrches are another example of using a unique spelling tweak.
Similarly, The Weeknd removed the final ‘e’ from his name after copyright issues arose due to the Canadian band of the same name.
3. Band Names With Numbers
There are many bands with numbers in the name. Adding a meaningful number to your band’s name could be a great way to help ensure it’s uniqueness. It could be the year you formed, the house number where you wrote your first song, or even just a completely random digit.
For example, Canadian pop punk rockers Sum 41 came up with their name during the 41st day of their summer vacation.
Blink 182 was initially called simply ‘Blink’, but band members randomly appended the number 182 in order to avoid any confusion with an Irish band of the same name.
You could even use a number in place of a letter, for example, Deadmau5 has done pretty well for himself!
4. Combine Multiple Words
The group name generators above work by taking two or three random words and smooshing them together in the hopes that some of them make sense.
But this doesn’t have to be a random process left up to a questionable website, however.
Simply get together with your band and jot down a ton of words that you feel would mesh well with the style of your music. Consider using a thesaurus to get more variations of the results. Now just start pairing up words until you find something that clicks.
This is how I came up with the name for this website!
5. Use Portmanteaus
Do you know what the words Bollywood, cosplay, biopic, and sitcom all have in common? They are all portmanteaus, which means two separate words that are combined to make a new and unique word.
This is also an excellent method for coming up with amazing band name ideas that are truly unique and memorable. Here are a few simple examples.
- Malevolent + Nation = Malevolation
- Imagine + Engineer – The Imagineers
- Frozen + Pizza = Frozza
- Polarity + Aquarium = Polaritarium
Also, who else thinks Portmanteau is a cool band name idea? It’s already taken, but try using some of the other techniques on this page to help distinguish yourself.
6. Try Spoonerisms
A spoonerism is where you take the first letters or syllables of two or more words and reverse them to create a unique new word. It’s a similar idea to the portmanteau technique above and can work perfectly for generating awesome band names. Here are a few quick examples.
- Ford Mustang = Mord Fustang
- Han Solo = San Holo
- Pink Floyd = Fink Ployd
- Big Mac = Mig Bac
An example of a band that has used this technique is US synthwave artist Com Truise.
7. Rhyme Time
Using words that rhyme is a surefire way for creating a band name that rolls off the tongue in a pleasant way.
If you have picked out a word that you like, try using a website such as RhymeZone to browse lists of rhyming words to pair with it.
Bands with names that rhyme include Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, Quiet Riot, Tears for Fears, Bee Gees, and Ace of Base.
8. Use Alliteration
Alliteration is where we repeat the same letter or sound at the beginning of two or more words. It is a technique often used in poetry as it creates a pleasing sound – and it works great for the best band names too!
Examples of bands that have used this technique include:
- Counting Crows
- Franz Ferdinand
- Beastie Boys
- Mr. Mister
A 2008 study found that the use of alliteration has a profound effect on increasing the memorability of words, so it’s definitely worth a consideration!
9. Take Inspiration From Others
Why not use the lyrics or a song title from one of your favorite bands as a band name? Similarly, you could use a favorite place, movie/tv-show, street name, or quote to help inspire you.
In the past, it was fairly common practice for bands to name themselves after other groups’ tracks, but with everything being online nowadays that is probably no longer the smartest idea. People may instead be more likely to be shown results about the original band’s song when searching for you online!
So, a better idea might be to take some of these track names and use them instead as a starting block. Try writing down a selection of song names from groups you all enjoy as a band, and then combine words from them to make something new and unique.
For example, we could combine two Metallica songs (The Memory Remains and My Friend Of Misery) to create something like Memory of Misery.
Try it out! You’ll easily be able to browse thousands of song names on your favorite music streaming service such as Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Music. Or try browsing your favorite lyrics on sites such as AZLyrics.
Did you know that Radiohead took their name from the sixth track on the Talking Heads album True Stories? Big Country also lifted their name from a Talking Heads song!
10. Substitute Foreign Words
Give your band name an exotic flavor by substituting one or more non-English words. This could also be a great technique to use if the band name you like is already in use in English.
So, if we use the example band name I came up with above – Memory of Misery – and translate one of the words we could come up with:
- Memoire of Misery (French)
- Minne of Misery (Swedish)
- Memoria of Misery (Spanish)
- Memory of Miseria (Portuguese)
11. Initial Hard Consonsant
Reading studies have shown that words that begin with a hard consonant are more memorable than others.
So, consider picking a title that starts with the letter t, k, p, d, g, or v to give your band name a better chance of getting stuck in people’s heads!
12. Does It Have A Back Story?
You will get asked about the meaning behind your band’s name, a lot!
So, although unnecessary, it can be nice to try to pick a name with a deep and meaningful backstory that you can explain to fans and journalists. It comes across a little better than, oh we just smooshed a couple of random words together!
Unless you are Australian, you probably won’t think too much about how the rock band Three Dog Night got their name. Well! It was customary in Aboriginal tradition to sleep next to their dogs depending on how cold it was. On the coldest nights they might sleep with three dogs to keep warm. A pretty interesting story to tell people, right?
Similarly, the band Twenty One Pilots has an interesting back story to their moniker. They were named after a play in which 21 pilots die after faulty parts are accidentally sent out and used in their aircraft.
Ask Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor how he came up with the band name and the backstory isn’t quite as interesting or memorable. He simply thought it sounded edgy!
13. Ensure It’s Easy To Find Online
In addition to being memorable, you should also ensure that your band name idea will be easily discoverable online.
Ideally, you need a title that is unique enough that you will be the first result in Google when people search for you.
An example I often give is the American rock band ‘Live‘. Great band, but type that into Google and they’re buried on page 2 of the search results. So if a well-known band is difficult to find, what chance does your brand new group have?
14. Easy To Pronounce
It should be obvious to understand how your band name should be pronounced. Otherwise, everyone will end up calling you by their own interpretation of how they think it should sound.
To use ‘Live‘ as an example again – how do you pronounce that? They intended it to be pronounced as in ‘alive‘, but you could definitely be forgiven for enunciating it as in ‘give‘.
Although it certainly hasn’t prevented them from success, other bands with awkward names to spell or pronounce include Haim, Gotye, and Die Antwoord.
15. Avoid Symbols and Accents
In a similar vein, you should probably also avoid using symbols and accents. These may look trendy and help to differentiate your band name from others, but it’s only going to confuse fans – especially followers from other countries who may not be familiar with them.
For example, how do you pronounce Sunn O)))? The answer is that you don’t use the second part at all, it’s just a symbol based on the logo for the now-defunct amplifier brand Sunn.
Did you know that the real name for English indie rockers Alt-J is just a delta symbol? This symbol is created when you hold the alt + J keys on a computer. I would imagine that less than 1% of the planet would know how to type that!
16. A Name That Fits
Although not completely necessary, it could be good practice to try and find a name that resonates well with your specific genre of music. If someone hears your name for the very first time, will they be able to instantly associate you with a particular style?
For example, think of the names Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and Iron Maiden. There’s no way you’d immediately think they might be a country band or a jazz band, right? These are all clearly metal band names.
Take a step back, and brainstorm a collection of words that suit the genre you are in.
17. Avoid Risque Titles
Band names that may offend certain people are only going to bite you in the ass. Try to avoid titles using profanities, sex, religion, or anything controversial in general.
The Goo Goo Dolls were originally named ‘The Sex Maggots’, but quickly saw the error of their ways when one venue refused to put their name on the door.
18. Check For Negative Connotations
Some names could have potential negative associations that you may not even be aware of. So it is important to undertake your research to ensure that this doesn’t cause headaches in the future.
For example, the country group Lady Antebellum recently changed their name to Lady A after discovering that Antebellum has connotations with the slavery era.
Similarly, The Dixie Chicks dropped ‘dixie’ from their name as this word also had links to slavery.
19. Think Of The Logo
If you are torn between a few different names it could be a good idea to consider which would potentially look better when used as a logo.
To use the Red Hot Chili Peppers as an example, it would probably be much more limiting to use their original name (Tony Flow and the Majestic Masters of Mayhem) in a decent-looking logo.
In addition, the length of the band name will dictate the size and shape of your logo. A shorter, single-word band name will let you take advantage of a much larger font size and should therefore stand out more on event posters, and be more legible on social media sites.
20. Do Not Rush It!
If the right name doesn’t come to you straight away, don’t settle for an option that you are just okay with. Give it time and the perfect title that ticks all of your boxes will come eventually.
You are going to be stuck with the name for potentially the rest of your days, so you definitely want to make sure that you can live with it! It’s also important to check that the entire band is happy with the name and not just you.
Most people wouldn’t show up to a tattoo studio and just pick a random design when you got there, right? You formulate a rough idea of what you want, research some designs, find an artist who specializes in that style, and then you’ll have days or weeks to think about it more while you wait on your slot.
Related Post: 100+ Amazing Guitar Tattoo Ideas
So, pick a name, let it sit and stew for a few days (or longer!), and if you still dig it you can be confident that it’s a winner.
21. Consult The Whole Band
This should be a given, but remember that there is more than one person in a band. You might be happy with the name you’ve come up with, but is everyone else also on board?
Make sure all band members are on the same page before you commit.
22. Unused Band Names Only!
Once you have a few solid ideas that you like, this becomes a crucial step!
In order to avoid any confusion or potential legal issues further down the line, make sure to do your due diligence and carefully check that another artist hasn’t already snapped up the moniker.
Here are some examples of services and sites you can use to find out if names are already in use or trademarked.
- Facebook/Twitter/Instagram etc
Rock band Stone Temple Pilots were originally named ‘Mighty Joe Young’, but were later forced to change as the name was already being used by a blues musician.
Similarly, Snow Patrol had to switch from their initial name of ‘Shrug’ as other bands were already using the title. Ironically, their replacement name ‘Polar Bear’ was also already in use, so they had to switch it again!
23. Check For Similar Sounding Names!
And it’s not enough to simply check that the exact name is not already in use, oh no! In addition, you’ll also want to ensure that no other bands exist with names that are broadly similar.
For example, British rock legends Joy Division were originally named ‘Warsaw’ after a David Bowie track. However, this caused confusion with another British band ‘Warsaw Pakt’, and so a change of name was agreed upon.
Linkin Park started to record music under the name ‘Hybrid Theory’, but decided to change it just before releasing their debut EP. They felt it was too similar to the British electronic band Hybrid.
24. Check More Than Just Other Bands!
For obvious reasons, you’ll also want to make sure that the name isn’t already in use outside of the world of music! For example, you probably shouldn’t name the band after a celebrity, well-known brand, or movie.
You can search the US Patent and Trademark Office Database to see if the name has been trademarked.
Did you know that grunge titans Pearl Jam were originally named Mookie Blaylock, after the famous NBA basketball player? They were forced to rename after being threatened with legal action by Blaylock.
Rock Band Chicago was forced to change their original title ‘Chicago Transit Authority’ after legal action from the U.S city’s transit operator of the same name.
Simon and Garfunkel were initially called ‘Tom and Jerry’. Well, you get the idea…
25. Check URLs and Social User Names
You can also make certain that important URLs you might like to use aren’t already claimed.
For example, you will want to confirm that the potential website address for your name isn’t already registered. A band or brand may not be using your name, but someone could be using the domain name for another purpose!
You can simply type the URL into your browser, or you can try a domain name registrar such as GoDaddy for a more detailed analysis, including alternatives if it is already registered.
Check out my guide on how to easily make a band website.
Similarly, is the user name available on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc? If it is taken, is it used regularly? Would you perhaps be able to convince the owner to hand it over to you?
Having the same user name across all social media platforms will make it simpler for people to find you, so this could potentially kill a winning name before you even get started!
26. Check For A Change In Meaning
You’ll also want to guarantee that the name of your band doesn’t mysteriously take on a completely unrelated meaning when typed as a website URL or social media username!
Let’s take a band called Bullpen Island as an example. www.bullpenisland.com is certainly not a website I would be visiting on my lunch break at work…
Similarly, if you have chosen a longer name consisting of two or more words, double-check that you haven’t unintentionally created an inappropriate acronym. For example, the rock band Saves the Day has the rather unfortunate acronym of S.T.D. – oops!
So make sure to examine your name from all possible angles!
27. You Can Always Change
Finally, what happens if you’ve already been using your name for some time, but feel that for whatever reason it was a poor choice and it is now holding you back? Or worse, could be a potential legal issue?
Change it, no doubt about it!
You might confuse (or lose) a small number of followers, but if you think your current name is preventing you from growing then that is utterly worth sacrificing!
In addition, if you have suddenly discovered another band or brand with a similar name you absolutely do not want to be risking legal issues further down the line. The longer you wait to change your name the more of an adverse effect and cost it will have.
We’ve already covered a ton of well-known bands above who have had to change their names for one reason or another. It clearly worked out just fine for them!
The Four Lovers changed their name to The Four Seasons in 1960, then The Wonder Who in 1965, and then The Vali Boys, plus a whole raft of other titles. They did just fine, with over 100 million records sold worldwide!
If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this rather meaty article then I truly hope that you now know how to come up with a cool band name that will propel your new group to superstardom.
A name can make or break a band, so don’t make the same mistake as so many groups that have chosen poorly.
I mean, can you imagine if Pink Floyd had stuck with their original band name of ‘Tea Set’?!
Try to follow the advice given in this article and who knows, you could come up with one of the best band names of all time!
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