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City's new brand: 'Havre, a place to belong'

When representatives of Wendt Integrated Communications of Great Falls began looking at finding a brand for Havre and the Hi-Line, they asked local residents what it was they thought was special about their community.

Most referred to the area as a friendly place with a deep sense of pride. It wasn't as isolated as many people thought, they insisted. It has a deep, small-town feel. It has an active population passionate about the area.

Last week, after studying the results, Wendt released its findings and recommendations about how the city should best present itself to the world.

"Havre, a place to belong, " is the brand Wendt has proposed. The slogan would be included on a logo Wendt designed, but, more importantly, will be the basis for the advertising agencies and businesses to use to promote the community to itself and to the world.

The new brand, said Johna Wilcox, the Wendt account executive who oversaw the branding process, would be used to attract tourists to the area, to help convince college students to attend Montana State University-Northern, and would assist area businesses and community organizations attract executive talent to the area. It will also, hopefully, lure young families to put down roots in Havre, she said.

The idea was presented to a group of business, educational and community leaders last week.

The new brand accomplishes what the community wants in presenting itself to the world, said Wilcox.

"We want people to want to be Havre's friend, " she said. "We want to humanize Havre. "

"We want to set Havre apart, " she said. "This is what makes Havre different. "

"I think you hit the mark right, " Jim Potter, Northern's director of university relations, told Wilcox. "I couldn't think you could have come up with a better one for what we are looking for. "

The two-month long process of coming up with a new brand was sponsored by the Tourism Business Improvement District and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

From the beginning, Wendt officials stressed that the goal wasn't to come up with a new slogan or logo, but an overall theme that area organizations can use to promote the community.

But upon discussion, most people believed that the logo will replace other slogans that have been used to represent the community.

"I think we have got to say bye-bye to 'Havre... It's the people, '" Potter said.

Debbie Vandeberg, executive director of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, said the logo will be used on the Chamber's website, which is being redesigned.

"The city has got to wrap its arms around this, " she said.

Some people involved with the tourism industry questioned whether the theme would help attract tourists to the area's historical and natural attractions. It was more oriented toward the college or to assuring new residents that they would be welcome here, but not toward getting tourists to stop here, they felt.

"I see it as perfect for tourism, " Vandeberg said.

Wilcox said it emphasizes the city's friendly nature, and encourages people to stop at locally owned businesses, such as restaurants.

Some proposed tinkering with the design of the logo. Wilcox said she would be open to changes.

The next step, she said, is to design a marketing plan around the new theme. Wendt will begin that process soon, she said.

Positioning statement and branding promise

After participating in two branding sessions with community leaders, Wendt Integrated Communications came up with the following positioning statement:

"Havre is the focal point of Northcentral Montana. She is the home of the most genuinely friendly people who are waiting to welcome you to the community. The spirit of Havre is authentic small town Montana where people are valued and families thrive. Her wide open spaces provide room to explore, grow and unwind. Enjoy yourself in the comfort and spirit of this place to belong. "


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