Many bands have achieved superstardom with the help of proper visual branding. The combined physical appearance of the members forms the visual symbol and imagery of a band. The image of the Beatles at the start of their career, with their distinctive and uniform pudding-basin haircut, wearing suits in stark contrast to the image of every other aspiring musician at the time, was a clever ploy that their manager Brian Epstein used to set them apart visually and draw attention to the group and their music.
KISS is another group which totally manipulated its image with make-up and outrageous stage costumes, so much so that they were unrecognisable without their make-up. Roy Orbison carefully cultivated his “dark star” image by dyeing his blond hair black, wearing black sunglasses and only black clothing when appearing on stage.
Queen’s multi-talented Freddy Mercury, who studied illustration and graphic design before becoming a musician, designed the brandmark for the band and used it on the back of their first album cover. Freddie had this to say about the band’s name: “I thought up the name Queen. It’s just a name, but it’s very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid. It’s a strong name, very universal and immediate. It had a lot of visual potential and was open to all sorts of interpretations. I was certainly aware of gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it.”
Queen’s Crest, in the form of a colour illustration, was used as the cover art for the album, A Night at the Opera, that put them on the music map. At the time, this album, with its diverse musical styles and experimentation with stereo sound, was the most expensive ever produced, featuring the hit song “Bohemian Rhapsody” that was voted, several times, the greatest song of all time. The band decided to make a video to go with the single. The result is generally considered to have been one of the first “true” music videos produced and was the first musical video offered free of charge to any programme, network or station which would air it. In 2003, A Night at the Opera was ranked number 230 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The brandmark, affectionately known as Queen’s Crest, is in