The Chess.com Logo Story
When I first started working on Chess.com (TEN YEARS AGO!!) I began with the logo. Some would say that is the least important decision to be made, but Chess.com was a totally blank page - an empty domain name that had landed in my lap (story for another day...). Creating the logo was more than just a decision about a shape and some colors - it was an exercise in determining what the site would be about. What would the focus be? What would be the site values? Who would be the target audience?
Why the pawn?
There were already other sites out there where someone could just play chess. I wanted to create more than that - a community. Also, many existing chess sites appealed only to strong players. Maybe that is why they have King or Rook logos - because they are powerful pieces. But in choosing the pawn I wanted to send 2 signals:
#1 - This site is a fluid community
It has been said that "pawns are the soul of chess". This means that the pawns dictate the character of the game. It can be a closed game with long, blocked pawn chains, or an open position with central pawns off the board. The point is that the pawns create the environment. And I wanted the members of Chess.com to be the backbone of the site.
#2 - This site is for everyone
We're not all Kings and Queens yet! Chess.com should appeal to all chess players - even those that don't yet know the rules! At the beginning of a game the pawn symbolizes the weakest of all the chess pieces. However, as the pawn makes it's journey up the board it becomes more and more powerful, controlling more important squares, and eventually, if it reaches the other end can be whatever piece it wants. I wanted Chess.com to be a site for chess players who are at any point in their personal chess journey - either making their first move ever, or a Grandmaster.
Once we decided on the pawn, we started tinkering away on some concepts!
First, I tried getting 99designs to do some logos. Ummm.... NO.
Then I convinced a talented friend to do some concepts:
From those, we narrowed down on this type of concept:
But I didn't like the colors or the heavy gradients. I wanted something simpler and cleaner (I was into flat design before it was hot!). And not the color of every other website (blue!).
And then that turned into what ALMOST became our logo:
But it didn't feel right. Too complicated. We wanted something even simpler and more pure. And from that...