Over the next six months, Havre will be challenged to come up with the image it wants to present to the rest of the world.
A series of meetings will be held to get people's ideas on what the city's "brand" ought to be.
Guiding the discussion will be Johna Wilcox, an account manager for Great Falls-based Wendt Integrated Communications.
The program is being paid for by the Tourism Business Improvement District, which is funded by a $1 per bed tax volunteered by four major hotels in Havre.
The brand, Wilcox told the tourism group at a meeting Wednesday, is not a slogan, but rather "it is your promise to the visitor."
Many participants said it will be helpful for Havre residents to take a look at how they view their community.
Several other Montana cities are involved in similar programs, Wilcox said.
In coming up with the brand, she said, Havre residents might find it helpful to consider the brand the state of Montana has adopted.
Its highlights include:
• More spectacular unspoiled nature than anywhere in the lower 48.
• Vibrant, charming, small towns that serve as gateways to our natural wonders.
• Breathtaking experiences by day and relaxing hospitality at night.
Debbie Vandeberg, the executive director of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, said the ultimate goal of the Havre branding program is to put "more heads in beds" of area motels and hotels.
Other participants said the branding program could have side benefits. Visitors other than traditional tourists could benefit from the program.
Montana State University-Northern Chancellor Jim Limbaugh said efforts should be made to express the community's welcome to parents of prospective Northern students.
Coming into town, he said, he saw only two state highway signs directing people to the campus.
Wilcox said another meeting will be held in February that will include people involved in the business community, economic development officials, governmental representatives, Northern officials and staff from Northern Montana Hospital.
At Limbaugh's suggestion, student leaders will take part, and Vandeberg said people from Leadership High School, the chamber-sponsored program for Havre High School, will be invited.
What is branding?
"Branding is a process of establishing and continuing to manage a (community's) reputation. A brand is not just a logo, a tag line, product or service... these are simply well executed tactics. The message, motive, character, philosophy or style behind these tactics are a result of brand strategy, created to give an impression or to make a person feel a certain way about those delivering the message."
—Wendt Integrated Communications