Back in the day, artists and musicians chose their name off the back of experiences they had in their lives or to promote how excellent their music was. A couple of exceptional examples of bands positively using their brand name to show off their excellence are Genesis and Nirvana.
Very religious names I might add with Nirvana, which in Buddhism means the ‘state of perfect blessedness attained through the annihilation of the self’ and Genesis, which was the first book in the Bible. A less religious example of personal branding from the past could be the Rolling Stones, said to have been taken from the famous saying ‘a rolling stone gathers no moss’.
I apologise for rambling about the meanings of band names; I will get to my point in a moment, but the freedom to choose a name and have equal chance to promote it was clearly evident back then when these bands were set-up.
The moral of this story is that in today’s market there may be less freedom to pick a brand name and just run with it. Artists, record labels and musicians nowadays need to be tactful when choosing their brand name. With the advancements of the internet and the ‘need’ to promote yourself on it, it is becoming more of a specialist job to tactically name a band/artist and promote them to stand out from the crowd.
Personal Branding: the Modern Era
With the internet these days taking pride of place at the top of the world at social level, it would be wise to choose a name that would be easy to search for within the search engines without any competition. A unique name is the best bet here; hell, why not even make up a word or phrase?
We did… Cruzine! You need your brand name to show up as #1 on the search engines to ensure that when the name is searched for, it doesn’t get hidden within the rest of the other searches. A name like Naked Celebrities would be fun, but just wouldn’t be ethical in terms of search rankings; you’re likely to be out-ranked by images of scantily-clad, failing Pop stars and the like.
A good, searchable name is doubly important when you take into consideration other ways in which people will be searching for your name: YouTube videos and singles on music sites such as iTunes and Soundcloud etc. will all be difficult to search for with a poorly thought-out name. Be smart; after all, the music industry is a results business… and a name that is difficult to search for will hurt sales.
Although the internet wasn’t invented in the 70’s, lessons should be learned from the simple, effective and rememberable name of ABBA. This is a unique name which still actually means something. It is an acronym of the initials of each band members’ birth names. It created a simple, memorable ambigram (meaning readable both ways) which, if it had been thought up today, would perform well on search engines on the strength of its uniqueness.
Internet aside, a four letter word like this will stick in the mind and help your quest for success going forward. This is not to say that when choosing your own brand name that you shouldn’t be creative or inventive with it, but just remember to keep in mind how simplicity can equate to effectiveness; and being effective is what being in business is all about. If you think otherwise, then you might need to re-evaluate your business goals.
Robert Smith: “Thanks Adam, I took your advice and kept it simple; my artist name is Robert Smith”.
Me: “Tut tut tut” (said with a sigh and a shake of the head)… “Bob, that’s shameful, you’ve just not grasped my point!”
Notice in the brief conversation I just had, I spruced up Robert’s name by shortening it and added an adjective: Bob and shameful. Shameful Bob. That could be his new brand name. Forgive me; it’s a terrible name I know, but I could have been writing this post for a while had I really tried to come up with a meaningful name.
But in the grand scheme of things, albeit in it’s simplest form, this is how you should be brainstorming brand names. It’s a name that is remembered, it’s still actually his name (kind of) and it will be easily searchable to the masses. Just a typical example how creativity mixed with simplicity can create a good modern day brand name.
Join the rest of today’s artists and ditch what ya mama gave ya! (your birth name that is). A couple of examples are:
Stephen Manderson AKA Professor Green;
Elliot Gleave AKA Example;
Joel Zimmerman AKA Deadmau5;
Ben Drew AKA Plan B
… to name just a few.
Try it for yourself and let us know what you come up with…
Insider tip: Before you start to plaster billboards with your new brand name, check to see if the domain name; Facebook profile; Twitter profile and YouTube names are still available. It would be ideal to have a name that can also have the corresponding social media profiles and have it’s own rightful place on the web.
Founder and Editor in Chief of Cruzine.com. Cruziner is also a marketer, writer, programmer, and active strength investor in global cultural change.