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  • Nervous about making your brand Shariah-friendly? Its easier, more profitable (and less frightening) than you might think…

    At Ogilvy Noor, we define Islamic Branding as branding that is empathetic to Shariah values in order to appeal to the Muslim consumer, ranging from basic Shariah friendliness to full Shariah compliance in all aspects of the brand’s identity, behaviour and communications.

    But in order to understand ‘Shariah compliance’ we must first fully understand what Shariah means.

    Shariah in Arabic can be translated as ‘the way’ or ‘the path’. In practice it is taken to mean ‘the path to God’ that Muslims should follow. It comprises a holistic set of practices that guide every aspect of one’s life, from politics and business to family and social issues.

    Many in the West will, upon hearing the word Shariah, automatically think of Islamic law, and most often this is coloured by negative media coverage on the denial of women’s rights, free speech or some similar issue.

    While the topic of Shariah jurisprudence or fiqh is vast in and of itself, it is worth remembering that it is only one part of the entirety of principles that comprise Shariah as a framework of moral guidance.

    Shariah and Shariah law (fiqh) are not one and the same.

    Understanding Shariah values is core to the enterprise of understanding the role of faith in consumption for Muslim consumers. There is no single definitive list of all the values that Muslims consider central to following Shariah. But there is certainly a great deal of agreement on what those core values are, with most Muslims around the world spontaneously suggesting them or agreeing with them when mentioned.

    Our research uncovered core Shariah values include (but this is not an exhaustive list) honesty, sincerity, respect, consideration, kindness, peacefulness, purity, patience, discipline, authenticity, transparency, trustworthiness, humility, moderation, understanding, modesty, improvement, community, equality and dignity.

    A good Muslim should live with these values at the core of their being, conducting every aspect of their life in a way that aligns with them. A good company, we can argue, should do the same.

    Running one’s business and brand along these lines is a recipe for long-term success with any group of consumers. There are companies that are already seen as Shariah-friendly as they uphold these values, even though companies may not have achieved full Shariah-compliance. Shariah-friendly initiatives can be hugely appealing to Muslim consumers today, but are not marketed to them currently as such.

    By undertaking such Shariah-friendliness and Shariah compliance, brands can help Muslim consumers achieve the lifestyles they aspire to, by reassuring them that their consumption is in line with their aspirations, and by helping them navigate the confusions of products and brands that are increasing in number and complexity.

    “Can I rely on this brand to be friendly or compliant to the values by which I choose to live?” asks the Muslim consumer. The universality of the values that Muslim consumers identified as part of their path should encourage brands to ensure that there answer is a resounding yes.