Steve Douglas on April 26th, 2010

Kiss Classic logo design

A look at the Kiss logo, where the name came from, who designed it and why the original version isn’t used in Germany.

So you think you know logosOriginally known as Wicked Lester, the group changed their name to Kiss with the addition of Ace Frehley to the band lineup of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Peter Criss.

It was lead guitarist Ace Frehley who designed the Kiss logo, while the new name made it’s first appearance when Frehley scribbled a version over Wicked Lester on a poster outside a club where the band was scheduled to play.

When Frehley created the now-iconic logo, making the “SS” look like lightning bolts, the runic letters appeared similar to the insignia of the Nazi SS, a symbol that is now illegal to display in Germany. Since 1979 most of the band’s album covers and merchandise in Germany have used a modified version of the logo, in which the ‘S’ characters are modified and rounded (see German tour guide cover below).

Kiss German logo tour cover

It’s been claimed, usually by conservative and parent groups, that the band’s name has many secret meanings and acronyms, but the band’s name came about due to influence by The New York Dolls and drummer Peter Criss’ earlier band, Lips. The logo was never drawn in blood (not that we know of anyway) but band members did each pour a vial of their blood into the red ink drums for a printing of the first Kiss comic book. The iconoclastic logo is generally recognized as one of the best band logos of all time.

RSS subscribe iconThis is the first of an ongoing series of So You Think You Know Logos? Each day, we’ll publish information, interesting trivia and back stories about famous logos. Every Friday, we’ll publish a quiz that will feature that week’s showcased designs, as well as a few surprise additions. To keep up in the latest logo design trivia, subscribe to our blog via e-mail or through your favorite news reader.




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4 Comments to “So you think you know rock band logos? Kiss”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ZeligFunk: So you think you know rock band logos? | Kiss | The Logo Factor Design Blog

  2. Jim SS says:

    The rock band KISS first played at the Coventry Club on Queens Boulevard in 1973, and is said to have derived its name from “Kissena,” one of Flushing’s major boulevards.[29]

  3. [...] something to with the fact that there are only so many ways you can stylize two S’s.  Even KISS has failed to be more creative(apparently the logo isn’t even used in Germany).  I can only [...]

  4. Josh Peters says:

    The logo WAS drawn in blood.. The inner sleeve of the Love Gun album shows KISS written in blood on a green marble background.

    Do a google search for “Love Gun Inner Sleeve” and you will see it.