1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do
Hey Salams, I am May of Studio Noor Anisa and in case you’re wondering yes Noor Anisa is the name I chose for myself when I embrace Islam at the right age of 21. I’m a mom of two and a brand strategist and designer and in between school runs and making sure my kids are well-fed and safe I help passionate purpose-driven Muslim businesses be seen. Recognized and raved about by The Dream clients as the go-to so that they can have the brand Authority and freedom to create positive change for themselves and for others.
2) What keeps you motivated?
Celebrating my clients’ wins and seeing them step into an elevated version of themselves and making a positive impact on the Muslim Community is a huge motivation for me to keep going. But the biggest motivation of all has to be my children because I want to see them grow up seeing that there are so many possibilities and opportunities open to them if they believe in themselves and trust in Allah and I also want them to feel proud being a Muslim because so many Muslim Brands and businesses have already paved the way and started to change the narrative for Muslims all around the world.
3) Why did you decide to start Studio Noor Anisa?
So prior to starting Studio Noor Anisa, I was working with global Brands such as Procter and Gamble and Unilever in top branding agencies in London, Singapore and Mumbai. I then went on to start my own Islamic Kid’s Lifestyle brand called puppetry which was all about inspiring faith in little ones, which I then sold after seven years and it was around this time that I noticed a lot of Muslim-run businesses popping up serving the Muslim Community and that was really exciting but it was also through speaking with many of them either as a friend or as a brand coach that I found that they felt overlooked many of them felt they were attracting the wrong clients and customers or that people didn’t see the value in what they had to offer, and I felt that before too. In the beginning of my journey as a small business, but because of my branding background I found that I had the answers and solutions to those questions or those challenges and this is a reason why I started Studio Noor Anisa so I could help those businesses that could help my fellow Muslim businesses be seen and be recognized as the go-to for their dream customers and clients.
4) How do you define branding?
Branding is what people think and feel about your brand and good branding gives people a reason to choose you over someone else. Now if your brand was a person what would he or she look like how would he or she talk and what would he or she say and does your brand give an experience that Wows them and makes you memorable through sight, touch, smell, taste and sound and this could come through in the form of visuals or your messaging or a space and much much more.
5) I read you have over 18 years of top-level international industry experience, in your view how has branding changed over time?
So in my opinion thanks to the rise of social media and to influencers there’s much easy access to Brands and to people which means that today’s consumers are much more savvy than they used to be and there are definitely changes in the way that people shop and what they expect from the brands that they choose to be loyal to whether that’s sustainability or sense of purpose etc and that has meant that brands have had to become more human to be more transparent and also be open to and engaging with the audience so that they are understanding what their challenges and needs are, in order to provide them with the right solution in an undistinctive way. At the core of it though it is still all about the people that you are serving and how you connect with them so that you can build that know-like and trust factor and compel them to buy from you and following that how do you nurture that relationship so they go from being a customer to being a loyal fan who Raves all about you to everyone that they know so that they buy from you.
6) What type of businesses have you worked with already?
Oh, I’ve worked with Bakers, Doulas, transformation coaches, Fitness coaches, Financial coaches I’ve also worked with Charities, buyer Brands, Hijab brands, jewellery Brands, and a lot of creative lifestyle brands with their own products I find um and some of them you might know such as Ramadan Legacy which is now also Towards faith and also my most recent project was a website Rebrand for droplets of Mercy a charity that is based in Canada.
7) What branding tips do you have for Muslim businesses or businesses that want to target Muslim consumers?
So here are three branding tips for Muslim businesses or businesses who want to serve the Muslim Community, is number one know your customer really really well down to the specifics of how they get through their day and this is where you can make a difference and connect with them in your messaging.
Number two is to be different to be authentic to be unapologetically you because otherwise how do you stand out.
And number three is to stop thinking of your brand as just being a logo or colors and fonts Etc think of it as an experience that you’re giving to your customers so that you’re giving them a reason to choose you over and over again over someone else.
8) What is the biggest branding mistake you see when businesses target Muslim consumers?
One of the biggest mistakes that I see businesses make when targeting Muslim consumers, is that the visuals and messaging seem to put Muslims into a very small singular group and Muslims are much more diverse than that with different cultures different religiosity different generations all having an influence on who they are as a Muslim and businesses and Brands need to consider that in their Communications to their Muslim audience in addition to their aspirations, their values and their very specific group of customer’s way of life.
9) Has there been any Muslim business which challenged you or you struggled with?
Alhamdulillah all my clients have been a dream to work with, perhaps the most common challenge that I see coming up for some of my clients is that due to a lack of time and sometimes finances they’re not able to move forward as quickly or see the results as quickly as they wanted to and that has usually meant that they needed a little bit more support or a bit of a push in order to get them closer to their goals what I have noticed though with some of my most successful clients is that they have a lot of drive and a lot of belief in themselves as well as the resourcefulness to get things done.
10) What do you think mainstream brands miss when targeting Muslim consumers e.g. Nike or Coca-Cola?
So this question actually reminds me of the Adidas hijabi mannequin that Islam Channel posted about a while ago on their social media. I think that mainstream Brands can sometimes fall short of the mark when it comes to targeting their Muslim customers because there is not enough understanding or awareness of what it really means to be Muslim. And I don’t like to put targeting because maybe that’s where the issue lies, I prefer the word serving because I believe that when you’re coming from a place of service this is where you’re actively trying to understand and learn about what your customers’ challenges, fears, needs wants desires are and how your brand can help them with the right solution to those challenges and those wants and desires and because there are so many nuances to being a Muslim, I believe it’s important for Brands to be opened open to a conversation with the Muslim customers or colleagues or employees so that whatever they’re doing they knew that that is aligned with their Muslim customers.
11) What issues do you commonly see with Muslim businesses in line with branding?
Some of the common issues that I see with Muslim businesses when it comes to branding is thinking that branding is about choosing some nice colors and fonts and having, a beautiful logo and job’s done but it’s a lot more than that branding is about building that brand Authority and building brand presence so that you are seen as the go-to in your industry, and it is about creating that foundation and framework so you know what to say how so say it and how to show up how to connect with your audience so that you’re providing that wow experience which turns prospects into customers who love everything you do to becoming loyal fans who are raving about you to everyone that they know. Another issue that I’ve seen with Muslim businesses is that they would see other Muslim businesses who are successful and want to emulate that without necessarily doing something different or that is unique or authentic to them and the danger in doing that is that they could be seen as copying or plan into a sea of sameness.