The perception of Islamic Banks’ identity

  • Abdullah Faisal Suruji

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Logos are a vital graphical tool for delivering messages. This study aims to investigate logos in terms of what information they can or cannot deliver. A literature review exposed that, in the past, the identities of Islamic banks have been expressed in traditionally Islamic ways to reflect their immersion into Islam itself. Since around the turn of this century, coinciding with an expansion of these banks and the increasingly volatile politics of Islam, the unambiguously Islamic statements of such identities have diminished and in some cases disappeared, and have been replaced by ethical identities. Ethical identities need to appeal to more diverse and less predictable customers and yet still observe Shar’iah principles, which make it no less Islamic in practice than other Islamic banks.

Islamic identity may open equally potent interpretations, each one able to communicate but, might reflect a reductive false image. Ethical identities may therefore be seen to be disingenuous, though in the current climate they
may portray a purer Islam. This shows that graphic design is not fixed within identity perception in terms of informing accuracy for complex meanings such as Islam. Islamic banks’ identity is complex and it can form a good testing ground to investigate the ability of logos in delivering meanings.

The result of this study is filtered through a theoretical framework that is divided into two parts. First, a study model based on previous research into identity perception. Second, theories; reader-response helps to frame receivers’ interpretative performance, Gestalt theory provides a visual analysis of the logos, and ekphrasis helps in unifying participants’ descriptions of the logos.

A pragmatic worldview was adopted, involving mixed methods, which divided into two phases. First phase was a quantitative case study that targeted the receivers of the Islamic banks’ identity. Second phase was a qualitative case study that targeted the providers of the identity.

The result shows that complex meaning, such as Islam, can be delivered by simplifying and compressing the meaning by using image rather than text. Simplifying complex meaning can result in making what is complex for receivers familiar in graphical terms. Compressing the meaning includes much visual information within the logo that will block the meaning from being received, yet surprisingly it generates positive reactions. Logos potentially are powerful design devices that can deliver or block complex meaning but they can be restricted to a number of graphic solutions without misleading the perception of the complex meaning.
Date of AwardAug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University

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