Ad Critique

Putting shariah at the core of your brand can reap rewards

30, January, 2012


Above: Burj Bank’s advertisement

Context: Formerly known as Dawood Islamic Bank (DIB), Burj Bank was created with investment from the Middle East. Islamic Banking has yet to capture the imagination of consumers who are doubtful about what is really ‘Islamic’ about them, and also whether their offerings can compete with conventional banks. Any bank wishing to grow their share of this market – a market which itself is only 1% of the banking sector in Pakistan – must deal with these key challenges.

Campaign: All communications were rebranded with the ‘shariat mein barkat’ strapline. See below for the values portrayed on the website, and above for the advertisement used.

What we liked: All the communications are extremely clear and focused, centering around the strapline “shariat mein barkat”, blessings in shariah. This is unabashed and proud of its Islamic heritage. It constantly reinforces the same point. Further, it elaborates on the fact that it is not just a marketing gimmick or a label, by highlighting very clearly the values that underpin the claim that the bank will help its customers gain blessings: purity, devotion, passion and integrity. It includes details which show the bank’s concern with shariah: on the home page of its website, for example, it clearly shows the times for prayer. The colours used are from the Islamic colour palette: green, turquoise, blue, black. Further, the colour green that is used is part of the Islamic palette, but is a fresh, contemporary variant of the traditional Islamic green, hinting at the bank’s modernity, and thereby emphasising that it offers comparable deals to other banks, and is at the cutting edge. The Arabic script used in the imagery echoes the Islamic branding message. It also uses a clear reference from within Islamic traditions “Allah takes away His blessings from interest” which give considerable weight to the bank’s own strapline which shows a clear relationship with the Islamic words.

Finally, the following quote from the CEO of Burj Bank is quite telling: ““Islamic banking is a challenging category because the appeal is belief-based. However, if you try to sell people a stairway to heaven, they will shy away from it. Instead, we are appealing to people’s emotions by asking them to do something in line with their beliefs.” He adds: “Every Islamic bank offers pretty much the same products and services; what makes us different is that we are not selling banking, we are selling blessings.”

Above: values that Burj Bank displays on its home page

Burj Bank refers to Islamic tradition in its marketing material