Islam is a world view and an outlook of life. The uniqueness of Islamic culture lies in its values and principles. The strength of Islam lies in its ideals, values and principles leading it to a superior image and good reputation.
Shariah compliance help the Islamic Brands be identifiable and increases its reputation. Since brand development is the element that causes most businesses the biggest challenge for creating the company identity, exploring brand marketing concepts in Islamic branding would fine-tune its business model and practices in today’s competitive market place. Islam has a set of values which are immensely strong and can identify itself as a strong brand, pose unique image thus build good reputation.
What is Shari’a Compliance?
Shariah, the Arabic word, refers to the prescribed laws and way of life in Islam. It deals with the ideology and faith; behavior and manners; and practical daily matters like marketing.
For example, it is obligatory for Muslims to consume halal food and use halal products solely because they do not eat and use consumer goods for the sake of pleasure only but also for performing their duties, responsibilities and mission in this world. Since the Islamic Branding is synonymously used as Shariah compliance and the need for Halal offering is of increasing demand, Muslim marketers can position themselves with this ideal to make their brands distinctive. Practicing Muslims are very much conscious about the view of what is lawful (halal) and unlawful (haram), which compels them for the consideration of Islamic brands as their choice. Thus the ultimate satisfaction is the satisfaction of both mind and body. The spiritual satisfaction of the Muslims could be brought about by following the Shariah guidelines.
Concept of Islamic Branding
Consumers view brand as an important part of a product, and branding can add value to a product. Branding relates to a product’s or service’s ability to create a relationship with a consumer; typically, via an appealing promise.
Islam can be considered as a brand in its own right, with its unique image; and like any global brand, this image is viewed differently by different people. As branding is all about addressing consumer’s shared values, wants, and needs; a large segment of the population, i.e. the Muslims, who comprises the shared values, has similar need and wants around the world. To Muslims, the brand ‘Islam’ represents a way of life; ‘Halal’ is a global Islamic brand for food; likewise Ramadan, Hajj, Jihad, Zakat etc. are also all familiar names with their own brand values and brand experiences.
Shariah Compliance and Islamic Branding
Successful brands are anchored in propositions that are desirable, distinctive, and credible. Islamic branding is actually more complex than this. Islamic brands place their appeal strictly on Shariah principles. There are brands created by Islamic-rooted organizations informed by Islamic belief but which are pluralist in their appeal (eg. airlines or telecoms). Still, there are brands which origin from Islamic countries but which are not specifically religious in character. To do so effectively means harnessing the concepts of branding in each of these categories. So it is just becoming clear, for instance, that Shariah compliance in itself is not differentiating. Brand choice requires emotional cues as well.
Shariah-compliant product offers not only a more secure alternative but also an ethical investment that is fair, clean and transparent. Islamic branding is not only about Halal (permissible) and Haram (non-permissible) but it imbues good deeds which are motivated by honest and sincere intention that goes beyond purely commercial branding efforts.
Shariah-compliant attribute contribute to build the Identity of Islamic brands
Islamic Brands may pose distinctiveness and unique features. Since Islam is a complete religion, it doesn’t require taking anything from others. It should be identified and unique in every aspect. Shariah compliance poses unique set of real and/or perceived distinctions attached to a brand by customers. It can be deduced that Islamic brands which are in full Shariah compliance can pose them as identified brands. This provides opportunity for the Muslim marketers to portray their products in a distinctive Islamic branding and uphold their values.
An effective branding process will create a unique identity that can differentiate the marketer from competition. That is why it’s often deemed as the heart of a competitive strategy. Thus the Shariah-compliant attribute leads the way of Islamic brands to become distinct and identifiable.
Islamic branding towards increasing image and reputation
The major elements of Image are:
1) the core business and financial performance of the company,
2) the reputation and performance of its brands (brand equity) and
3) its reputation for innovation.
Islamic brands are found to be in synergy of these elements. Various studies and observations show that, Islamic Branding has been able to created positive image in the financial sectors with its interest free banking i.e. Halal banking got great popularity and success for their long built image and reputation.
As Muslim countries develop, there is an expressed need to develop and market their own brands to the rest of the world enhancing their image. Additionally, there is massive interest amongst non-Muslim companies how to enter and penetrate this global market, which spans many industries- including finance, food and beverage, cosmetics, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, logistics, tourism, fashion, and others.
To sum it up, strong brands are invaluable as the competition intensifies day by day, making it the ultimate source of promise to the consumer. Islamic brands place their appeal strictly on Shariah principles. There are many brands created by Islamic-rooted organizations well-versed by Islamic belief. The specific boundaries of Islamic regulations create unique positioning thereby helping them to build strong image and reputation to stand out in the competitive market. The universal values promoted by Shari’a principles namely trustworthiness, honesty, certainty, fairness and transparency leverages the essence of Islamic brands. Thus Shariah-compliant attribute is unique for Islamic brands which positively influence customers’ perceptions on the credibility and benevolence of the brand upholding its identity.