Building Brands and Brand Nations: Catching on.

True. It’s a little hard to feel sorry for the freakishly beautiful.

It brings to mind the 30 Rock episode when Jon Hamm—Liz Lemon’s (Tina Fey) boyfriend—doesn’t understand that the average looking aren’t treated the same as the abnormally beautiful.

However, in the fashion industry even the thin, young and beautiful are treated as commodities to be traded and bet upon.

Model agencies—or bookers as they’re known in the industry—toss hundreds of young faces at designers in hopes that one of them will catch on and become that singularly rare super model that provides glamor, prestige and substantial commissions for the booking agent.

In this interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, former model Ashley Mears talks about her new book Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model, and we discover that finding this years’ It Girl is driven by belief, capriciousness and the subjectivity of a high stakes and fickle fashion industry.

Catching on is what the fashion industry is all about, and the industry shamelessly creates their own symbols of the moment—those beautiful and celebrated models who adorn and enhance their product on runways and in all sorts of media.

The rest of the thin, young and beautiful work in what a sociologist calls a structurally bad job—a non-standard job in an informal economy without a sure paycheck, health care or retirement benefits, and with forced retirement virtually guaranteed by age 25.

Catching on in fashion is subjective and mercurial at best, and only a few win. No amount of words can convince the fashion industry that yours is the new look.

Unlike the fashion industry, if we’re able to think strategically about just what it is we mean to our customers, we can build convincing brands that develop their own following of brand nation loyalists and evangelists.

For us, catching on means creating a compelling message that helps your customers understand that you “get them” and that you two make a perfect fit.

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