Branding ISIS, ISIL, IS

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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If the brutal insurgent force now ferociously battling in Iraq and Syria were treated as a common brand, its recent name changes would prompt major confusion. ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ) or IS (Islamic State) seems to have a critical identity crisis, yet it has a resoundingly clear message:

“We are an Islamic army, and a state that has been accepted by large number of Muslims world wide, so effectively, any aggression towards the Islamic State, is aggression towards Muslims from all walks of life who has accepted the Islamic caliphate as their leadership.”

These words constitute what branding consultants might call the core narrative. It’s the heart of the brand strategy (or campaign) designed to marshal the Islamic world to rise up under its symbol, the black banner comprised of the white calligraphic shahada, representing one of the Five Pillars of Islam, positioned over the historical seal of Muhammad.


To associate such brutal ferocity to the idea of branding may seem simplistic, even callous. Yet the Islamic State’s success at spreading its gospel to destroy “infidels” throughout the world involves cunning propaganda and skillful branding to convince a portion of the Islamic world that they’ll remove Islam’s enemies from their lands, while insuring the IS name is more on their target’s mind than that of its leading competitors, Al Qaeda and the Taliban.


Indonesian manufacturers and retailers are selling all kinds of ISIS, IS souvenirs. So sad.

Of course, this means maintaining a name (or brand family names) that supports IS’s claim of being a state. As part of its brand platform IS, with more available cash than the entire GNP of some established nations and a larger war chest than other Islamic militant groups, effortlessly supports media and social media networks.

While name recognition has a bearing on how successful a brand may be, whether this one is called ISIS, ISIL or IS, its leaders understand that this brand-engine is the terror of its convictions.

For more on IS’s marketing go here. Another unique view of IS branding see Quentin Newark’s “Dividends of Death”.

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