The genesis of the HUMAN brand traces back to a sci-fi bookstore in Brooklyn, where our co-founders discovered their shared passion for cybersecurity during the "Save the Sci-Fi Campaign." In this humble setting, our mission to disrupt the economics of cybercrime was born. Our latest conference booth design and custom comic, based around our unprecedented VASTFLUX takedown, pay homage to those roots while reflecting on who we have become in this space.
HUMAN's Senior Content Writer, Rosemary Cipriano, and Senior Art Director, Jessica Yeung, were essential in the concept and execution of these endeavors. In a conversation with these two creative minds, we delve into the importance of staying authentic to our brand's voice, remaining true to our mission, and taking an innovative approach to marketing in the cybersecurity realm.
The best way to start is the beginning. It’s not just the uniquely designed booth. It is a complete activation - a custom comic, postcards, sci-fi swag, shirts, etc. How did this all come to be?
Jessica Yeung: It took a lot of time and a lot of meetings. As a brand experience team we have been thinking of the booth itself for a while now. We wanted to do something to break through the noise but that still felt true to HUMAN.
Rosemary Cipriano: You start with your foundation of what all this is for - helping other humans understand our company and our mission. We have modern defense, the 3 pillars, collective protection and so much other subject matter to work with. How do we tell that story and who do we tell it with? Luckily, we found a great artist in Cheyne Gallarde to help with the comic, and that 6-month process started from there.
How did you go about the process of being creative while still making sure it all relates back to HUMAN’s mission?
RC: I think the most important part was being true to what we try to accomplish every day. We had all the material already - it was the work we do in disrupting the economics of cybercrime. I knew what each of the threat posters were going to be. For instance, I knew they were going to include account takeover, ad fraud, PCI compliance and scraping. The next step was to immerse myself in science fiction. I wanted to gear my brain to think in that way for this project to do it justice.
I love that. Cybersecurity and sci-fi intertwine so naturally. It’s quite literally how HUMAN started, but you don’t see the unification of the two that often in our world. What was your mindset with the comic?
RC: I think it's something we've always floated around, and I remember getting razzed about the possibility when I first started working here. We always leaned into how we aren’t superheroes. We are Humans working together to safeguard the internet. Presenting the information in the form of a superhero comic, while still maintaining our humanity, was a delicate balance.
JY: VASTFLUX was a very important takedown, our biggest to date. We didn’t want to overly fictionalize it just for the comic. Toeing the line of telling how this story unfolded and showing how collective protection works, but not making it trivial, was crucial. We’re excited about the possibility of doing additional comics. The Satori Threat Intelligence Team really has such an impressive track record that allows us to venture more down this path.
Recreating the Satori team as actual characters in the comic was such an amazing way to shine light on the work they do. Next, I want to talk about the booth design, which is otherworldly but still so grounded. What were the challenges of that?
JY: I think the hardest part is always showing its bigger purpose. No matter how amazing an idea could be, it has to relate back to our business model. It’s that balance of knowing “How does this help us translate the idea of disrupting the economics of cybercrime”
RC: That is a testament to our events team - helping us know when to pull the reins back. Katie Lanza [Marketing Manager] has been a part of this all from the beginning.
JY: Dan Lowden [Chief Marketing Officer] and Sarah Acker [VP, Corporate Marketing] have been a part of these conversations since last year. They really know what they're doing and how to make sure all the assets are visible and the space tells the proper story.
RC: Katie Lanza is there from brainstorming, to planning, to execution, tear down and after when everyone goes home. Sarah has such a good eye and high level experience in understanding what our partners need. Dan knows how to build relationships and foster a sense of community. This booth was an innovative way to tell our story and embrace connectivity. It is important that we all have those conversations of elements that our work can provide or enhance.
How do you decide something is vital enough to use as copy? That something is a vital part of the narrative that needs to be out there more.
RC: It’s all important. I want to use it all. What I focus on is what best answers a question at hand. People come to our booth, website, or have conversations with other Humans for all levels of information. Wherever they are on their cybersecurity journey, our job is to be there for them with pertinent knowledge. If someone comes to our site wanting to know “What is invalid traffic?” or is a buyer for a platform coming to our booth wanting a demo on how to stop data contamination. I want the right intel to be available.
JY: It’s the same with my choices for visuals - from the comic, to the bookstore booth, website or anything else design-wise. It has to provide value to what we all hope to accomplish. If someone is a visual learner, I want them to be able to look at what we do with an understanding.
Real humans are affected by these threats that we are stopping. It’s nice we get to come up with creative ways to show them that.
RC: Exactly, I remember when I was doing research on CTV, and one of our Satori members ran some code on my TV as a test. They discovered my television had malicious code operating in the background and I had no idea! While I'm watching Netflix, cybercriminals were using my viewing to mess with the advertising ecosystem.
JY: Oh, and that time your spotify was used as spin fraud for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.
RC: Yeah, like I said, fraud affects everyone - even those of us who work at a cybersecurity company.
It’s one of those things where we build these relationships with big platforms and break down information silos between organizations, but it really is for helping real humans and protecting the integrity of the internet.
JY: We want to help businesses make informed decisions with real data, make sure they are getting real humans in their marketing funnel, and protect them against cybercrime — but in the end the beneficiaries are everyday people. We try to tell that story with our branding. What you see and hear from HUMAN is a company that cares about what is going on in the ecosystem as a whole.
RC: The organizations we partner with and use our products are humans themselves. They buy concert tickets, they listen to music, they watch CTV, they may bet on sports, and they use their personal information on the internet every day. They do all these things we aim to safeguard and collectively protect from bad actors.
Why do you think this booth design and how it differentiates is significant and valuable to HUMAN and our mission?
JY: I feel like the fact that the concept related back to what we do was essential. We didn’t just randomly come up with this idea for a booth that was the replica of a bookstore. Everything we did had educational intention and connected back to who we’ve been from the start.
Our co-founders really started this business in a sci-fi bookstore in Brooklyn
The posters are all related to our use cases.
The comic book was based on our real life threat hunters who did the work on VASTFLUX.
It's all very grounded in what our business does, and that's how you tie this creative idea to an actual business goal, as opposed to them being kind of two separate things. It’s the same for the collaborative effort we are trying to achieve with other organizations we work with as well. At the end of the day, marketing is for the business. It's not just to be creative. It has to serve a purpose, it has to educate others on what you represent as a brand.
RC: This activation illustrated what our entire team is capable of. Creativity is important in B2B, and I am glad to work somewhere that understands that. The bonus is we were all a part of the success. Having support at every level for Jessica and I throughout all this was beyond beneficial. At the end of the day, I create to move us closer to our business goals. I enjoy showing just how strategic our team can be in doing that. Cybersecurity a lot of time can be playing in a specific sandbox. It can be scary at times thinking about what to do with that sand. I look at that sandbox as we get to architect a huge sandcastle and design a bunch of moats together as a team. We all have an aligned vision on what success looks like.
Come immerse yourself in our next HUMAN experience and join us in a Wonderland of Creativity at The Haven as part of Cannes Lions 2023.