The Harris family of Harris Leather and Silverworks presented a short lecture on branding to an over-capacity crowd during the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Business Before Hours Breakfast on Tuesday.
Several people stood in the hall listening, so as to not pass fire capacity limits in the meeting room, as Phil Harris introduced those assembled to the impact of the Harris brand. “Our brand is very iconic in our industry,” claimed Harris. “It wouldn’t be unusual to go to an airport and see someone wearing something with the Harris H on it. Our customers identify with it.”
The Harris H is two strips of carved leather connected by an engraved silver buckle with gold saddle. The simplicity of the brand is part of what has made it so popular, alleged Harris. “You don’t have to study it to know what it is,” however a design, “can be too simple or too involved.”
“You know you have a successful brand when the competition tries to copy it,” asserted Harris, who recommended making sure trademarks and logos are federally registered. “It’s not terribly expensive,” stated Harris. “It’s do-able, but you have to keep it up.”
A significant factor in the success of the Harris branding is the number of products sold with the signature H. Harris described a conversation with a customer who ordered boots and insisted that they have the logo on them. Part of marketing a brand, according to Harris, is “put it on everything.”
As head of apparel, his wife Phyllis agreed, “We put our brand on every article of clothing,” even adapting the logo color to the item.
The semi-truck used to transport goods to shows is also a part of the Harris branding plan. “We took a lesson from NASCAR,” stated Phil Harris, describing their mobile showroom as, “a rolling billboard. For the past 10 years it has been all over the country.”
Harris Leather and Silverworks began in 1968 with “Mabelene’s little side business” in the Mount Airy home of Ralph and Mabelene Harris. The success of her leatherwork grew with the family’s involvement with horses as Ralph began to work on tack, which son Phil later took over. Eventually brother Eddie began to specialize in silverworks extending the business further.
Although “we want to do as much as we can for the Elkin community … we stay very busy at what we do,” asserted Phil, “we keep a low profile,” so as to not have to tell neighbors they are unable to repair jacket zippers.
Many of those neighbors seemed to be present Tuesday morning. “I looked out over the sea of faces and I think I knew everybody here,” claimed Phyllis.
“Occasionally we do [talks] and it’s always a lot of fun,” stated Eddie Harris. “We do these whenever we are called upon to support the chamber and local businesses. Small business carries the load in the country. I encourage [everyone] to support the small businesses of this community.”
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.