by Laura Yecies
Here along the 101 corridor in Silicon Valley, technical jargon, acronyms and super-secret code names can at times overwhelm our daily lexicon. But when we launch a new product, it’s our responsibility to leave the techie talk behind and explain how it works in real English. Sometimes, that’s not as easy as it looks.
Take the firewall. It’s not a complicated technology, but when we first launched it almost a decade ago, there were extensive debates about how to describe it to people. In fact, the first edition of ZA wasn’t even called a firewall, it was port management software for enterprise PCs. ZoneAlarm ended up being the first personal firewall and today that core product remains the leader in free firewalls (and is the foundation of almost all of our ZA products). The final explanation not only described our product, but defined firewalls for the entire industry.
More recently, we faced a similar situation. ZoneAlarm ForceField is the first of its kind. True, there have been some basic virtualization attemps (such as GreenBorder bought by Google and discontinued) but they lacked the active security layers anti-phishing and drive-by download security we added and were difficult for consumers to use. Forcefield isn’t a single technology, but a grouping of key features intended to work in concert to ensure a safe, easy, surfing experience.
So there was no established industry jargon, or accepted terminology to help us describe ForceField’s capabilities. There was no naming nomenclature (IE “Internet Security Suite”) to guide us in the branding and marketing. It was a blank slate.
We accepted the challenge enthusiastically as this is one of the most fun parts of a marketer’s job. Everyone in our group was encouraged to give input, especially with coming up with an analogy that related to real life – to better explain the technology to everyday people. Some of the ideas were fun and wacky (May the ForceField Be With You), others were intended to give you a visual picture of how the technology worked. We ended up going in that direction, and two main concepts have endured. The first is the idea that ZoneAlarm ForceField is your browser “stunt double”. It’s you surfing the Internet, but your stunt double takes the hits when a hacker tries to strike. At the end of your session, you can toss away the stunt double browser, keeping the “real you” safe.
The other analogy that we use is the virtual bubble of security – in fact this idea is what gave rise to the product name. Surfing the Web with ForceField is like surfing in a bubble that you control. Attacks that happen during your session are isolated in the bubble, protecting your PC and keeping your most sensitive data safe. At the same time, malware already on your PC, like perhaps a keylogger, is prevented from spying on anything happening within your surfing bubble, keeping your keystokes, mouse clicks and Web transactions safe from prying eyes.
I’m not sure either of these two descriptions are 100%, but they’re close. However, we’re always open to ideas, so if you have one feel free to e-mail it over (email@example.com).
Also, in future posts we will start a series using real-world language to explain *all* the different features in the Suite that protect you, and how they work. We talk about layered security, so these posts will explain each individual feature, how to best use it, and how these different layers work together to help keep you safe from a variety of attacks. Also, please let us know what you think…are the descriptions still too technical? Do you have a better way of explaining it? We’d love to hear from you…