Learning branding lessons from chess champions

Chess may be one of the ultimate strategy games, but marketeers can learn a lot from the game, and they don’t even have to know the moves of the pieces.

A few weeks ago we had the Women’s US Chess Championship matches here. They took place a few blocks away from my office at the St. Louis Chess Club, a dandy new spot in the ‘hood that also was the scene of the US Open earlier this year. As part of the festivities welcoming all the chess nerds was an event that I attended at my favorite local art museum, the Kemper on the Washington University campus, where the women chess champs were going to play roulette chess. It was a great evening, a combination of smart women and interesting ideas. What more could this geek want?

At the museum, I got to meet the current, three-time women’s champion, Anna Zatonskih and the woman who invented roulette chess, Jen Shahade. Both are babes, to say the least. This year’s tournament netted Zatonskih a cool $15 grand, the largest purse of a women’s tournament ever. Granted, this isn’t big money for other kinds of contests, but in the world of chess, it is a lot.

I am not a very good chess player, although I learned when I was much younger only to get routinely trounced by my younger brother, who continues to play and even doesn’t need a chess board to keep track of his moves.

While it certainly was fun to meet the women champions, I was more interested in seeing how Shahade has done such a great job branding herself online. Here are just a few links to get your juices flowing:

First off, she wrote a book entitled, Chess Bitch, about the current crop of women chess players. Apart from the brilliant title, it is a great idea for a book. In chess, many players refer to the all-powerful Queen with that moniker, something that I wasn’t aware of. (For those of you that don’t play, while the object of the game is to capture your opponent’s King, the Queen has the most allowed moves on the board.)

Second, she has all these wonderful ideas about how to invigorate chess by making it more like a sport or like poker, ideas that I have to say I find interesting (and play off my earlier column about making science a spectator sport here).

She even wrote a column for the New York Times a few years ago about it (now that is great branding just right there).

Third, she understands that sex sells, and apart from being a very attractive woman, she does things like play chess while spinning a hula hoop and against a naked (sadly) male opponent. These are two separate activities, but all in the interest of getting more attention to the game. She claims the naked chess is better for her to hone her concentration, as well as to ensure the opponent isn’t hiding any assistive electronic devices. Yeah, right. In any event, you can check out her video on her Web site here:

Finally, she does a lot of different events, both demonstrating unusual ways to play chess as well as getting inner-city girls excited about the game. Thus, she combines her passion with some solid volunteerism, which as you should know is a great way to spread the word on your brand.

So those of you that are looking for some new ideas, check out some of these links. The combination of video, catchy titles, and stimulating ideas is enough to give you your own ideas on how to brand and market yourself online. Even if you don’t play chess.


2 thoughts on “Learning branding lessons from chess champions

  1. I’ve met Jen and she’s one sharp lady. One reason why the 1st prize at this year championship was as high as it was because her personal marketing efforts have helped raise women’s chess profile.

  2. Hi,

    Americachess.com is currently in the progress of choosing chess blogs/clubs to receive recognition from Americachess.com as Top Resources. This award is not meant to be anything other than a recognition that your blog/Clubs gives information about tactics that directly or in directly raise Chess awareness. Simply place the award banner code on your site and your resource will be listed as a Top CHESS Resources on Americachess.com once you place it. Americachess.com is a Private Global Chess Server which offer FREE Chess Games and Guidelines for learning chess and whose goal is to promote Chess (which game has lost his fan base) through the spread of information globally. Thank you for your dedication to your Club/blogs. Please reply me back with the subject line as your URL to avoid spam and to make sure that you only get the award banner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s