Brand and Marketing Guidelines for the modernist society 

the modernist society is a not for profit community of like-minded enthusiasts and academics with a unique perspective on 20th century modernism, architecture and design

The Brief

To create Marketing and Brand Guidelines for

the modernist society.

With a cult and loyal following, the modernist society grew organically so it's important new fans understand it as an organisation, that way they can be true advocates for the brand —the best kind of marketeer.  

Stakeholders adhering to guidelines that help navigate fans around interactions prevent prospect customers from being lost in silo's and hindering expected growth.

A not for profit business, it is crucial that the modernist society continues to grow so that it can reinvest in projects that deliver on its core mission to promote 20th century modernism.

But if the modernist society were to begin speaking to fans as though they were now customers—instead of friends, it would quickly lose the sincere relationship it currently enjoys.

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.


Take ownership of the brand by formalising and defining the modernist society organic, praxis approach. Enable all its stakeholders and third parties by providing them with easy to understand and actionable guidelines —thus ensuing all products, events and publications get the same treatment and are instantly recognisable as being from, and by, the modernist society

The work included:

  • Formalising the brand architecture in order to identify the route by which social media and digital marketing could lead fans around interactions

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

  • For consistency, the brand was aligned in terms of its visual identity, its tone of voice and its creative outputs across all channels. This increased brand awareness by ensuring fans recognised they were at one of the modernist society offerings

  • 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 Solution

Brand Alignment:

Brand Guidelines for the modernist society as an organisation, community and brand were created for inclusion in its "Graphics Standards System" –a corporate identity developed by design team Wayne Fearneley and Aaron Blythe. A separate Marketing Guidelines document was also developed exclusively by Under Rocks.

Both documents act as a reference and official policy regarding the modernist society brand identity and practise.

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

The guidelines were activated through the alignment of all seven of the modernist society Instagram accounts in terms of bio, highlight buttons, visual identity and tone of voice.

Audience Growth and Development: 

Sales across the product offering increased significantly, especially for the modernist magazine which began to sell out before the release of following issues –seeing the print run increase by 20%

Fans began to follow the modernist society on not just one channel but across multiple channels: those following @themodernist went on to follow a chapter account, for example, with the numbers of shared followers increasing by approx 5% - 10% per account.

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.


The Result

The Process

A series of workshops between Sarah Feeney and key stakeholders post-rationalised the business, including a full brand immersion and the consideration of previous third party consultancy reports regarding audience, chapter and retail development —everything was taken into consideration before creating the guidelines.

An initial project fee saw the creation of the Brand and Marketing Guidelines.

Working on a consultancy basis of one day a week, these guidelines were then activated via a content strategy across the modernist society social media accounts: seven Instagram and twitter accounts for each of the chapters, plus one Facebook account, twitter and Instagram account for the modernist.

Sarah Feeney continues to be a (proud and loyal) lifelong member of the modernist society and is a regular contributor to the modernist magazine and served as guest-editor of its issue #33: JUNCTION.

Photos throughout by Wayne Fearnley and Aaron Blythe.