Design-driven brands will lead the Islamic Economy

Written By:
Peter Gould, Founder & Dreamer


Brands emerging in the Islamic Economy have a significant opportunity to embrace strategic design. These pioneers will become the major influencers in years to come.

Measuring The Value Of Design

To quantify the value of strategic design, Motiv built the DMI Design Value Index.

In 2014, they applied this measurement to the only 15 companies in America that met their criteria for being design-led: these were Apple, Coca Cola, Ford, Herman-Miller, IBM, Intuit, Newell-Rubbermaid, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Starwood, Steelcase, Target, Walt Disney and Whirlpool.

DMI found that “over the last 10 years, design-led companies have maintained significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P by an extraordinary 228 percent”. 

What is a design-driven brand?

It wasn’t so long ago that design meant logos, posters and brochures. But over the past 10 years we’ve witnessed the rise of a new kind of strategic design, one that shifts to experiences, interaction and service design.

Global design and innovation company IDEO says: “Design thinking—inherently optimistic, constructive, and experiential—addresses the needs of the people who will consume a product or service and the infrastructure that enables it”.

Neglecting to think about design is a missed opportunity to engage more consumers. Simple aspects of design that may be overlooked without design thinking in place may isolate target consumer groups.

Design in the Islamic Economy

5Pillars Board Game

Successful brands emerging in the Islamic Economy will need to embrace design thinking and incorporate design strategy from conception. This is especially true for Islamic / halal lifestyle products and creative experiences.

One example of a pioneering brand is 5Pillars, centered around Islamic education through playful experiences and board games.

The founder of 5Pillars, Ridwan Mohammed, explained that the company’s entire brand experience is completely design-driven and that they have built a loyal following by understanding what, how and why their customers love the products.

insights-designdriven-2< insights-designdriven-3The company has sold close to 100,000 board games in three languages in over 25 countries.

Design thinking and strategic branding are closely complemented by Human Centered Design (HCD) which is “a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs,” according to global design company IDEO.

Human-centered design is central to ensuring that the products and services being developed by a company are in tune with what their consumers are looking for.

It employs the use of empathy to generate ideas, which are then turned into prototypes that are tested by target consumers for feedback before being launched.

Islamic Economy Example: Halal Gems


Halal Gems used the Human-Centered Design approach during the development of its online portal and digital magazine for fine dining & halal food in London.

‘Halal foodies’ were kept in mind from the ground up of development, with design centered around the experience of what this particular group of consumers would expect and love.

Because of this approach, the Halal Gems magazine now has over 40,000 subscribers after only two issues and Issue 2 was downloaded over 1,000 times in the first six hours of being released.

Brands emerging in the Global Islamic Economy are uniquely positioned to take advantage of strategic design.

When correctly employed, design-driven Islamic brands can communicate their Islamic ethos in a more intuitive way to their target consumers.

Currently, with a few notable exceptions, many Muslim-centric brands understand Islamic design at a superficial level—a dash of Arabic, use of green, and the ubiquitous crescent or geometric tiling. This minimises the depth of impact that can be created by drawing inspiration from the richness and beauty of the Islamic faith.

As a global community we need to up our game when it comes to brands that embrace strategic design. I look forward to a future when beautifully crafted Muslim-centric brands, products and creative experiences will flourish. We shouldn’t underestimate the positive impact this will have on the world.

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