The Islamic Development Bank has launched its trade finance arm as a standalone corporation under an identity created by Siegel & Gale.
The aim behind the move is to harness the expertise within the IDB in Islamic trade finance under the banner of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation.
‘The ITFC has functioned as a unit within the IDB, but with the growth of ‘sharia’ finance and business within member countries, the management saw an opportunity to create a standalone corporation that focuses on Islamic trade finance,’ says Siegel & Gale Dubai managing director Tarek Sultani.
The US consultancy was invited last February to present credentials, and show how it would approach a strategic project and demonstrate understanding of major issues, as part of a competitive pitch against a host of global branding consultancies, thought to include Lippincott Mercer. ‘The minute you say “sharia” or “Islam”, there is a reaction to think in more traditional terms. In the case of the ITFC, it’s a global organisation, and it needs to present itself in this way, but, of course, there still needs to be the heritage and an Islamic element,’ says Sultani, commenting on the challenges posed by the project.
With a team drawn from all four of its offices, Siegel & Gale was given a brief to create positioning, brand values, tone of voice, visual identity and implementation in English, French and Arabic across consumer touchpoints including brochures, website, stationery and literature.
‘The key challenge of the brief was positioning. The ITFC is part of a multilateral bank, but at the same time enabling it to compete against commercial trade organisations like HSBC or Société Generale,’ says Sultani.
The positioning devised by the group – ‘Advance trade, improving lives’ – aims to address this dialectic, he adds.
The visual identity, he says, has an inclusive feel, and is about bringing countries together while referencing elements of Islamic heritage, working across a breadth of countries. A strong photographic style focuses on the community benefits of financial transactions.
The language barrier between English and Arabic, especially when it comes to expressing brand values, was one of the most challenging aspects of the project, according to Sultani. ‘A lot of UK or US consultancies have a tendency to bunch all the Middle East countries into one basket, but there are subtle differences in dialect, for instance, between Saudi Arabia and Dubai,’ he adds.