Incorporated Society
of Musicians

Rebrand and communications

Founded in 1882, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) had become convoluted in structure and tired in operation. Perceived as irrelevant, the Society was failing to recruit new members and existing members were not engaging. They brought us in to change all of that.

In the 12 months after re-brand, ISM attracted 632 new members (including 251 recent graduates and students).



We were all a little sceptical; we just wanted our logo tidied up and our magazine to be slicker but now we get it. We constantly think about our brand and personality; it’s inseparable from what we do, from the venues we hire for conferences to the way we address our envelopes.

Kim Davenport Gee, Publications & Events Manager





Our first job was to work with their team to transform the way they perceived themselves. We held workshops and informal discussions and brought the whole organisation on the journey, ensuring that staff, volunteers and members felt included and embraced the change.



The ISM exists for the benefit of musicians so that’s what the logo expresses: at all levels, the ISM ‘is musicians’. The visual palette reinforces values of a solid and trustworthy, professional body.




The rebrand catapulted them into industry consciousness, positioning them as the authoritative voice of professional musicians.  It has brought a new sense of vigour and rigour to their staff and volunteers, making them advocates for change and ambassadors for the brand.




Music Journal

We quickly realised the potential to relaunch the members’ magazine as a more powerful advocacy tool. We knew that, anecdotally, the existing magazine was well-loved by a small minority of members but actively ignored by the majority, and never seen by non-members.

We worked in partnership with their communications team to rethink the magazine from scratch. We changed everything – from stock to typography, from editorial policies to distribution. We used an uncoated, environmentally credible paper stock. It feels warm to the touch and is non-reflective (which is very important to the older demographic of readers/members).















The typography has a light but formal feel, with differences in colour palette and layout defining three ‘sections’ of content. The new design has played an important role in repositioning the ISM as a credible membership organisation, it’s been enthusiastically received by readers and has prompted a marked increase in advertising sales.










I remember well what the ISM’s publications and communications looked and ‘felt’ like in the years BC (before Cog). We are growing our membership (at a rate which is sometimes hard to keep up with) and we are being taken seriously by parliament and the wider arts world. We now have a firm foundation on which to grow as an organisation. So, long may the Cog/ISM relationship continue!

Kim Davenport Gee, Publications & Events Manager

Recruitment Campaign

Our rebrand re-established ISM’s credibility. Two years on, we moved to the next stage: a campaign to attract a new, younger membership.

Through extensive audience research and data analysis we worked with our clients to pinpoint the handful of benefits that are the biggest key drivers for new members.


There’s something hugely satisfying about being able to take reams of text and data, and distil it into the essence of what you need to communicate. But my favourite part of the campaign is the illustrations; they reinforce the ISM brand whilst using a visual language that clearly communicates to a new, younger audience.




The campaign has been used across a wide variety of different publications and websites. For each ad, the message and illustration can be matched to best suit the potential audience.