Your Christian bands name affects almost everything the band does in business and ministry. Choosing a band name is one of the most important decisions the band has to make; but coming up with a great name is tough. The band name is important because it creates an identity for the ministry. It defines what the band stands for and distinguishes the band from any other band. Let’s face it; most of the obvious “good names” have already been taken.
A good band name should do these things:
• Reflect the bands style of music
• Be unusual enough to remember
• Be not so obscure as to be easily forgotten
• Have a meaning that relates to the bands ministry
• Be easy to pronounce
• Create interest among the target audience
• Be short enough to fit on merchandise
Ideas for names can be found everywhere, but a good name must meet all of the above criteria.
Where Do You Find Good Band Names?
Create a New Word
• Some of my favorite band names are not really words. They have been made up to reflect the style of music and give the band its own identity. Think of names such as Metallica and Hoobastank. These names require the most creativity to come up with but avoid most potential problems with other people using the name.
• You may be able to choose a word and change the spelling to come up with a name that is not a real word: Kutless and Korn.
• Some bands have made 2 real words into one word: Coldplay and DecembeRadio.
Use your Own Name
• Many bands use the name of one of their members. Bloodgood, Fee, Daughtry, and Leeland are good examples.
• Some bands use the lead singers name and simply add the word “band” after it: “The Bill Gaither Band” is probably one of the most famous. This does infer that the one person owns the band and the other members may change from time to time. But, this may be true for your band and, so, would be appropriate.
• Many Christian bands try to tie the band name to a Bible reference. Does your band have a favorite verse or principle you live by? If so, you can pare down the theme to a short phrase like Casting Crowns, Seventh Day Slumber, or POD (Payable on Death).
• Theology can be a useful inspiration. The band Hyper Static Union based its name on a doctrine called Hypostatic Union. This doctrine describes the union of Christ’s humanity and divinity in one. ZoeGirl is based on the Greek word Zoe, meaning God’s everlasting kind of life.
• Lately, it has become popular to use a short phrase as a band name. Often this phrase comes from a song lyric or refers to something significant to the band members: Devil Wears Prada and 33 Miles.
Take your time as a band to choose a great name. Have brainstorming sessions but keep them lighthearted and fun. Most great band names come almost by accident, in a moment of inspired silliness and camaraderie. Whatever name you choose should have a brief story behind its meaning. These stories are great ice breakers for radio interviews and talking between songs on stage. The story also helps your name become memorable to your fans.
Problems to Watch for:
• An uninteresting name can contribute to the failure of the band. If your fans cannot remember your bands name, the band is doomed. The band may be remembered as “the band with the pink drums” or “the band with that one guy with long hair”; but they will not be able to find you online.
• Almost as bad as not being remembered at all is a band name that constantly gets made fun of due to misspelling or pronunciation issues. Right Side Cast frequently turned into Right Side Cats, and even Right Arm in a Sling. Do you remember the Oneders?
• Then there are the unexpected problems: I know a band that chose the name Sure As Stephen as their first choice for a band name. It was not until they had business cards made that they saw a problem in their website domain name: www.sureasstephen.com. Do you see it? Let me help you: www.sureasstephen.com. Probably not the most appropriate choice for a Christian band.
• Band names that are a common keyword can be expensive to use. Names such as “Disciple” and “Red” are good examples. In order to build name recognition your band should be the only band using your name. So, the band must keep track of other bands using the same name and send letters asking them to stop using it. Usually these letters are written by attorneys (think legal fees). Depending on who has been using the name the longest and most, your band may have to relinquish the name to the other band. Then you get to start over with a new name and try to rebuild name recognition… not good.
• Common keywords are also more difficult to get a high ranking on search engine results pages. Before making your final decision on your bands name, google it and see who else is already using the name.
Most importantly, a good name must be available for use.
Trademark or Servicemark Law makes it illegal to use a name that is similar to a name that has been used longer for a similar product or service. Trademarks apply to products and Servicemarks are used for services. A name that sounds similar, looks similar, or means something similar to a name already in use is also illegal. Do not use a name that is likely to confuse a buyer or cause them to believe the band is related to another product or service because the band could have to pay damages for trademark infringement. Some bands are threatening to sue other bands for infringement damages as a way to raise extra money.
What if someone else already has a name similar to what the band wants? Don’t even think about it… choose another name which is not even close to anyone else’s band name, book, movie, or product. Geographic locations are not suitable for any part of the band name because the Trademark Office will not grant a permit for a generic mark. Choosing a name that might later have to be changed is self-defeating and paying damages for infringement is expensive. The goal is to build up recognition for the bands name.
After the band has several ideas for a name check the availability of those names. Start researching the chosen name on the internet. Use several search engines such as Google and Yahoo; then look at band directories: ascap.com, bandname.com, artistdirect.com, and bandnameprotection.org. Also check online book and record stores such as: tower.com and amazon.com. Last, be sure to check online social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. These networks will be key to building your fan base so you do not want to be confused with someone else. Examine domain names at www.internic.net and www.icann.org, which are domain registries; and search for already registered federal trademarks at www.uspto.gov. Refer to Phonolog (available at most record stores) and Billboard International Talent and Touring Directory (in many libraries). Print copies of the searches for the name the band decides to keep. Put them in the bands permanent file for future reference in case the band is ever involved in a name dispute.
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How did your band choose its name? Leave a comment and tell us your story.