top of page

case study:  A Brand Book
for The Modernist Society

We are The Modernist Society. A Manchester-based not-for-profit community of like-minded enthusiasts and academics who have a unique perspective on 20th-century modernism, architecture, and design. 


The society’s gallery, shop, and reading room and its flagship publishing project are called the modernist, a collaborative quarterly magazine with guest editors.


Brand Book and community guidelines delivered across-the-board growth six months ahead of schedule.

Industry: Publishing, design, and architecture

Size: Mid-tier

Territory: UK 

The Result

  • Flagship magazine the modernist enjoyed a sales increase of 20%, and for the first time, issues sold out.


  • Product sales on increased by 25%. 

  •  The target to increase @themodernist followers from 13k to 15k was exceeded by an extra 5k followers. 


  • Originally hired for four months, the modernist society was so pleased with the results that they extended the contract for an extra 18 months.

The Brief

Create a Brand Book and community guidelines for the modernist society.

the modernist society has a cult and loyal following. 

But the brand grew organically, so fans struggled to understand it as an organisation. This was preventing them from being true advocates—the best kind of marketeer.

Guidelines were needed to help navigate them around interactions, preventing them and prospective customers from being lost in silos and hindering expected growth and sales.

The Challenge

If the modernist society comms and marketing were to start treating fans as customers instead of friends its sincere relationships could start to break down.

So how does the modernist society convert loyalty into sales without losing its praxis ethos: decisions and actions being instinctive, driven by culture and community, and "doing" as opposed to sales and targets?

The Solution

​Take ownership of the brand by formalising and defining the modernist society's organic, praxis approach. 

Provide its stakeholders and third parties with easy-to-understand and actionable guidelines that ensure all products, events, and publications get the same treatment and are instantly recognisable as being from, and by, the modernist society

Take Away Documents

Brand Guidelines for the modernist society as an organisation, community, and brand were created for inclusion in its "Graphics Standards System" —a corporate identity designed by team Wayne Fearneley and Aaron Blythe.

It is a reference and official policy regarding the modernist society's brand identity and practice.

​A simple and actionable set of guidelines for all in-house teams and third parties.

The guidelines were activated by aligning all seven of the modernist society Instagram accounts. 


Fans began to follow the modernist society on not just one channel but across multiple channels.

For example, those following @themodernist went on to follow a chapter account, with the number of shared followers increasing by approx 5% - 10%.

Fans signed up for other products: magazine subscribers became members and members subscribed.

The content strategy saw the Instagram target to increase followers to 15k by the end of 2020 achieved by June 2020, and it continues to grow at a rate of approx. 1k new, organic followers a month.

"Knick Knack Tuesday", a weekly feature on @themodernist ran every week throughout 2020 and helped keep engagement and interaction going whilst physical interactions were put on hold. At its peak, it attracted contributions by the likes of Patrick Grant and would often achieve the highest numbers of all posts.

Document design and all photos by Wayne Fearnley and Aaron Blythe 


"...the modernist needed, for those outside the organisation and unfamiliar with what the modernist stood for, a clear and consistent set of the modernist's aims and goals.

Working with Sarah Feeney, who developed the marketing strategy and brand element, Aaron Blyth and Wayne Fearnley, who formulated and updated the modernist visual identity, building upon the foundations laid by Jonathan Hitchen and Dan James, we have produced 'the modernist brand guidelines'—a copy of which you hold in your hands."


Eddy Rhead and Jack Hale  

This Work Delivered

  • The brand architecture was formalised to identify how social media and digital marketing could lead fans through interactions.

  • A content strategy encouraged participation and a sense of community whilst ensuring the brand is seen as an authority within its field. The plan includes CTAs to drive growth and ultimately ensure fans engage on a deeper level and have plenty to share and talk about. 


  • Awareness of the brand was increased because fans recognised they were at one of the modernist society offerings: the brand's identity was aligned with a consistent tone of voice and visual identity across all channels. 


  • The regional chapters were activated and integrated into all plans so that projects and sales drives could benefit from maximum amplification across multiple audiences.

the modernist society quote

"the modernist society" hired Sarah Feeney to define and formalise the organisation into one unified brand definition, the results of which feature in a new “Graphics Standards System” —Brand Book— for the organisation.


The work included Marketing Guidelines with a special focus on Content Strategy and Social Media management.


Sarah Feeney understood and captured our unique tone of voice, brand spirit and community, which led to successful engagements that increased sales and followers without losing our core fans.




do get in touch if you're interested in finding out what I might be able to do for your brand.

bottom of page