As creative teamwork has moved to the cloud, the need for security has become paramount. Skiff is a workspace for communication that provides total privacy through end-to-end encryption utilizing the decentralization of Web3 technologies. The platform lets users be owners of their data and stay in control of their files with encrypted expiring links and password protection. Pentagram has developed a visual and verbal identity for Skiff that highlights its innovative approach to privacy and creative collaboration.
Pentagram worked closely on the project with the leadership at Skiff, including Co-Founders Jason Ginsberg and Andrew Milich. Since Skiff launched in 2020, its user base has quickly grown to over 100,000, and early clients include The Guardian news organization. The platform allows users to write, edit and collaborate in real time with their colleagues, like Google Docs, but is built on a foundation of end-to-end encryption, so it does not have access to users’ documents and data as Google does. The company is redesigning software with privacy in mind, and the brand refresh coincides with the rollout of new products like Skiff Drive and Skiff Mail, which was introduced this summer.
Working with strategist Robin Haueter, Pentagram developed brand positioning that helps Skiff stand out from other privacy platforms. The name is a creative spelling of SCIF (defense lingo for “sensitive compartmented information facility”), but Skiff did not want its branding to be too overbearing or militaristic (think images of locks and shields). Rather, the brand strategy focuses on the platform as smart, optimistic and inviting. The messaging is empowering and accessible, and presents Skiff as intuitive and freeing for users, while knowing everything is private and decentralized.
The visual identity needed to be contemporary and relevant to the primary audience—early adopters who are knowledgeable about privacy and blockchain—while avoiding the clichés of sci-fi tech and hallucinogenic color palettes. The icon, colors and typography reference the sleek, timeless look of modernist design to convey a sense of trust and signal something less tied to trends.
The Skiff symbol itself refers to privacy control by revealing and hiding its surfaces as it rotates. The logo is wrapped in a pattern of lines that evoke information, and the circular revolution suggests ever-vigilant security, as well as creative renewal. The theme is reinforced through the secondary visual assets, which bring objects in and out of focus, again hiding and revealing.