Last week saw two of the largest three Annual Muslim conventions in North America, ICNA-MAS Convention (formed 1971) in Connecticut, USA, and relatively new event Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) in California, USA (first US event 2010). The largest of these annual events will be the upcoming 4th of July ISNA convention (formed 1982).
With a combined gathering of 50 thousand plus attendees, these events serve a tremendous role in strengthening the Muslim community spiritually and socially. In this blog post however, I want to look at each of the conference’s distinct brand personalities purely from a marketing perspective. This is an important consideration for the organizers given they still only reach a small percentage of the American Muslim population and in terms of being relevant to an increasingly young American Muslim audience.
ICNA and ISNA have been around in North America for over thirty years. Both have traditional brand positioning, although ISNA has a more modern presentation when looking purely at their logos, corporate colors, and communication style. Both have the Islamic green in addition to a complementary yellow as their corporate colors. ICNA’s logo employs Islamic calligraphy, while ISNA’s is in the shape of a mosque. Contrast this with RIS’s modern logo and bold colors.
The recent conferences also illustrate the differences in communication style between the more traditional ICNA and its more adventurous counterpart, RIS. Take for example the session titles. ICNA’s session titles include: Islamic Sharia: A Divine Legal Framework for a Prosperous Society, The Balanced Nation: A Universal Responsibility, The Vision & Mission: The Purpose of Our Life. Compare those to the witty titles of RIS’s sessions: Shedding Light on the Shadow: Helping Americans See Our Dark Side, The God of Tsunamis: A Muslim Reflection on the Problem of Evil, The Valor of the Veil, and Nonsense Over the Niqab.
Marketers are often advised to think of brands in terms of people with distinct personal traits as well as general characteristics in terms of what they wear, the type of car they drive, etc. If you’ve seen any of the recent Mac versus PC commercials, where Mac is a young, cool guy, wearing casual smart clothes, and PC is a middle-aged stout man wearing a stuffy suit who likes to go by the rules, that’s a perfect visual example of brand personification. If you haven’t seen them, here’s a link.
Where do you think ISNA, ICNA and RIS fall in this spectrum?
Do you agree/disagree with my analysis and rendering of the three brands? Do you think this is each organization’s intended positioning? If not, what do they need to change to enhance their brand perception?