How we developed Salv identity, part 3: domain, three lines, and what’s next

April 14, 2020

This post is part of a series on how we developed Salv identity. Also read the other posts in the series: domain

There are probably two kinds of four-letter .com domains: in active use, or bought up by domain resellers, waiting to be resold. Fortunately, appeared to be in the second bucket: no active user or trademark had claimed it yet, and it was available for purchase.

We contacted the seller and were able to negotiate a reasonable price to acquire the domain. It took some back and forth, but worked out in the end. We obviously ended up paying, but not a whole lot: I’ve heard of magnitudes-larger domain purchases.

We had a backup plan with alternative domains in place. Fortunately, our main plan of obtaining worked out. It wouldn’t be the end of the world to use an alternative top-level domain, or a variation of the Salv name, but feels like having a “dot-com” is still the gold standard and adds a bit of extra credibility.

The three lines element

You’ll see the “three lines element” as a visible element of the Salv identity in various locations.

Three lines is based largely on typography and color. Besides the product screenshots and photos of our team, there is minimal imagery. Still, we wanted to have an element to liven up and bring some interest to the composition. Priidu had an idea to try abstract shapes based on our brand colors.

Here’s the first version of our three lines element, as it appeared on the website during the development phase. (You’ll notice the rest of the page is work-in-progress too, and quite different from the final version.)

Three lines, early version

This version wasn’t really speaking to me. The first thing it evoked in my mind was the Olympic Games or some other sports theme. I felt there was potential here, but this execution fell short. Nevertheless, we kept exploring, until we finally arrived at the version with broken lines that you now boldly see on our site and other materials.

Three lines, final version

By breaking the lines, the element suddenly became much more interesting and connected with our mission. I find that it now tells a story. What is the story about? What are the broken and connected lines? Are they the criminal flows of money that we want to cut? Or are they the opposite—fates of people like human trafficking victims, whose lives are broken by perpetrators of financial crime, and we want to reconnect those lives and fates?

We do not provide a definitive answer as part of the brand project. But we do invite you to join our journey and the conversation.

What’s next?

Salv launched with its new identity in December 2019, and we have received lots of encouraging feedback. We feel that the identity represents who we are and what we want to be.

Those of you more familiar with brand development will notice that two common sections are missing above: voice and tone, and visual imagery. Indeed, we launched our identity’s first version without fully fleshing those out. Here’s why we chose to postpone these parts.

We operated with customers already before we re-launched as Salv, and the one insight we have from our past many months is that our work puts us in front of a huge variety of stakeholder groups. From the largest banks, government agencies, industry bodies, all the way to just a few guys in a fintech startup, we encounter great variance in the expectations to how we engage our partners, including our tone and approach. We determined that we do not yet know enough to formulate a coherent voice with appropriate tone variations for all these groups. We gather insights and take notes as we go, and expect to formulate our verbal and visual voice and tone in the coming months based on recent real-life learnings.

Nothing is forever in the digital world, and we have not set our identity in stone. It serves us well today, but our sights are already in the future. Beyond formulating our voice and tone, we expect to keep refining and developing our identity. We’ll revisit all the elements as needed, as Salv gains traction across countries and industries.

Thank you

I want to thank Priidu Zilmer, who was my creative partner on this project and did most of the actual creative and production work. Thank you to Jeff and Tiina who kept the project on track and drove it forward with lots of insight and contribution, and to all other Salvers who gave us helpful feedback and ideas.