We have been shaping the future since 1979: In 2019, PTV Group will be celebrating its 40th anniversary. This is why this year’s blog posts will be dedicated to topics that have moved us for four decades and still do. We met with Kristina Stifter, Head of Global Communications, for an interview. Not only was she the first woman to occupy a management position in the company
Compass: Kristina, you’ve been part of the PTV family since 1995. Let’s take a big step back in time: What was PTV like when you first started your job with the company?
Kristina Stifter: When I started, PTV was still divided into several limited liability companies. There was a company for traffic planning, one for research… I started working in logistics, where I was responsible for professionalising marketing and media relations. Most of my 50 colleagues were engineers or scientists. They were all very fond of technology and our products. I needed to convince them that marketing and press relations actually do create an added value.
Compass: What were some of your first projects?
Kristina Stifter: Well, first of all, I had to create very basic things, such as product descriptions. Because there was no such thing. There was the software, maybe the one or the other manual with highly technical content, but no explanatory material. However, we urgently needed product descriptions for customer acquisition and trade fairs. I remember how tedious it was to discuss the texts with the engineers who wanted to have all the details of the software described (laughs). Agreeing on a key message in the title was always a real challenge.
Compass: Trade fairs already played an important role back then …
Kristina Stifter: Yes, we sometimes exhibited at up to 80 trade fairs and events per year. The release of new products was coordinated with important events, so that we were able to showcase them there. That was always pretty exciting. I remember one of my first trade fairs particularly well, the ITB in Berlin. That’s where we showed the first route planner on digital maps. It was a big deal back then! There was nothing comparable before. Using our technology, Mairs Geographical Publishing House then launched the first consumer route planner as a CD for its brands Falk and Marco Polo.
Compass: In 1999, the various limited liability companies were transformed into PTV AG, a public limited company.
Kristina Stifter: When founding the public limited company, we started our first major brand project with the aim of aligning all our products under one brand position, creating a more uniform external image and standardising the various product logos. The corporate brand PTV was born with a red tail logo representing the platform idea. The logo text ‘solutions for traffic’ later became ‘traffic mobility logistics’ to describe our three business units.
Compass: Wasn’t that the time when the customer magazine Compass also picked up speed?
Kristina Stifter: We introduced the print magazine Compass back in 1998. It was the first medium that not only referred to a single product, but to the company’s entire portfolio. Upon the establishment of PTV AG, the customer magazine helped present the bigger picture. There were interesting stories from each of the different business units. My aim has always been to focus not only on the
Compass: The last major relaunch of the PTV brand took place in 2012 …
Kristina Stifter: A year earlier, the founder Hans Hubschneider handed over the business to the new CEO, Vincent Kobesen, which marked the end of an era at PTV. Vincent told me that he would like to have a new logo. Of course, we had be clear about the message this new logo should convey.
Compass: And then you addressed this issue properly?
Kristina Stifter: Yes, it was time for a change. So we created a professional Corporate Identity (CI) process in order to define what PTV stands for and what our values are. At that time, we still had the problem that the subject areas of the previous GmbHs (limited companies) were still seen as separate units, meaning PTV was either perceived as logistics technology provider or as transport planning specialist. Vincent was always the visionary who wanted to build a strong brand with a clear brand strategy. In the course of the process, it became apparent that – despite the differences – we could position ourselves more effectively in the market by joining forces. Everything was covered by the new PTV Group umbrella brand; no further logos were used. This is how the great mission statement ‘The Mind of Movement’ was developed, which everyone at PTV can identify with.
Compass: Could you describe this guiding principle a little more precisely?
Kristina Stifter: We, the PTV Group, are the bright minds behind the scenes who ensure that people or goods arrive at their destinations on time, and safe and sound, whilst conserving resources. This reflects the added value of PTV and describes our accumulated expertise covering all facets of transport.
Compass: So the CI process was a complete success both externally and internally?
Kristina Stifter: Absolutely! Our colleagues have actively joined us on our journey towards a more flexible organisation and agile corporate culture, moving away from closed teams. And it is still important for me to include our colleagues in our brand building process. After all, everyone is a brand ambassador – whether consciously or not. During our introductory events for new employees we therefore always briefly explain the key elements of our brand identity. I think we can say today that most of our PTV employees are proud to be part of The Mind of Movement.
Our professional and sound brand identity has taken us into a completely different league. Prior to this, we were a hidden champion with a lot of know-how and expertise, but not highly visible. A rough diamond, so to speak. Since the relaunch we have started to sparkle and shine, no longer shying away from being present on the big stages. And that was one of the reasons why Porsche Automobil Holding SE became aware of us.