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Why We Chose the Samurai

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Posted on May 21, 2021

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First, because it’s pretty damn cool. Cybersecurity industry businesses tend to utilize powerful imagery in their logos and brand identities. Wolves, rhinos, bears, falcons, Vikings, locks, spiders, foxes, and lots of dragons are all over the market. Ask why a company chose its logo and you’ll usually get some quick comment about how their image shows strength or conveys powerful defensive capabilities. Sure, that makes sense. Honestly, this market is interesting and forward-looking in that we can collectively point to those images as representing an overall security brand stance. But if you try and dig deeper into many of those brands and logos, you’ll often find that the thinking behind that logo doesn’t go much further than a neat picture and some serious marketing dollars.

We chose to go deeper than that. Ericom is an established brand with a strong heritage in secure connectivity and remote access technologies, but it has been evolving that offering to include cybersecurity capabilities. With the company continuing its move to add cloud cybersecurity services, we seized the opportunity to combine a soon-to-launch new technology offering with a new brand that represents where we’re going. We chose to anchor this new brand and logo – along with our new technology – in a well-crafted, carefully considered persona that represents what we offer to our customers and MSSP partners, and is in line with our company culture. This was not an easy task, and the journey had its ups and downs; but we are proud of the result and think that it stands out in the market.

First, to choose an image for our logo, we ran a word association experiment that went like this:

I asked 25 people who were not cybersecurity folks or cyber marketers to jot down the first words that came to mind when I put these terms before them.

  • Edge – the response was always either “sharp” or “sword”
  • Best sword – “knights and Excalibur” came up, as did “ninja” and “Samurai and Kitana”
  • Best swordsmanship – “Samurai” was the resounding answer.

That pretty much nailed down that a “sword” equals an edge; the best sword is a Kitana; and the best user of that sword is a Samurai. Cool.

Now, the next questions were, “Is a Samurai a good image to associate with our brand? Does the history of the Samurai represent the qualities and ethos that we want people to associate with the Ericom brand?”

That required some research. All I knew about Samurai before this exercise was based on a not-awful movie in which Tom Cruise dressed up as one, and got his ass kicked numerous times. And of course, I knew that Samurai were basically the feudal Japanese equivalents of knights. That was the extent of my knowledge, yikes.

So, I started to read a lot of historical and academic publications on the history of the Samurai. And the more I read up on the history and ethos of those ancient Samurai, the more they seemed like a great image to associate with our brand. Let me break down what that research led us to understand.

The word Samurai originally meant “one who serves,” which is what Ericom aspires to be. We’re dedicated to serving our customers and we’re proud of our servant leadership culture.

Samurai lived by the Bushido code of behavior, which laid out how they should act in their personal and professional lives. As a philosophy and system of belief that places a great deal of importance on loyalty and duty, it perfectly aligns with our corporate values and company culture. Going even deeper, we learned that the Bushido code comprises some key principles or virtues that Samurai were expected to uphold.

  1. Justice is a core value of the Samurai. Incorporating the Bushido principle of justice requires adherents to focus on what is fair and to uphold their moral values. This is very much something we embrace as part of our company culture and forms the basis of our customer and partner interactions.
  2. Courage, like justice, entails determining what is right and what is wrong and being willing to stand up for one’s principles even in the face of danger. Courage entails the strength not only to perceive but also to act. It is a quality that we demand from ourselves and support for our customers — the strength to act courageously in a constantly threatening environment.
  3. Compassion is the ability to be patient and empathize with others. It requires us to see the world from others’ perspectives — in our case, from the viewpoints of our customers and partners. This is an especially important trait for those in leadership roles.
  4. Respect means acknowledging and communicating regard for the experiences and feelings of others. We respect our customers and partners and value their heroic efforts to safeguard the systems and resources of their organizations and their customers’ data.
  5. Integrity is required to embrace these principles and act upon them, day in and day out. Integrity means living every moment of your life, at work and at play, honestly and sincerely.
  6. Honor: Samurai warriors’ sense of self-worth was based on their living by the highest code of conduct. The principle of honor requires individuals to acknowledge their moral responsibilities. This too aligns well with our corporate culture and ethos.
  7. Loyalty means being true to yourself and to those that you serve. We demonstrate our fealty to those that we serve by the very act of engaging in this space and by ensuring we stand by them as they move to a better end state and posture. We will not abandon this principle or our customers even under difficult circumstances.

Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you know more than you think you do. In this case, I personally learned a lot and felt fortunate to have found an image that resonates with exactly who “we” want to be at Ericom. While not one of those 25 word-associators could have named even one of the Samurai values, they were spot on in sensing that the image was right for our brand, and consistent with the principles and values with which each one of us approaches our task of protecting our customers from cyberthreats.

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About Dr. Chase Cunningham

Creator of the Zero Trust eXtended framework and a cybersecurity expert with decades of operational experience in NSA, US Navy, FBI Cyber, and other government mission groups, Chase is responsible for Ericom’s overall strategy and technology alignment. Chase was previously VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research; Director of Threat Intelligence for Armor; Director of Cyber Analytics for Decisive Analytics; and Chief Cryptologic Technician, US Navy. He’s author of the Cynja series and Cyber Warfare: Truth, Tactics, and Strategies.

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