Design Bridge restores local pride in Holsten, Hamburg’s most iconic beer

Drawing on Hamburg’s rich industrial heritage and reimagining its iconic knight, this new visual identity and packaging design reaffirms Holsten’s local reputation

Design Bridge London share details of their work rebranding iconic Hamburg beer brand Holsten, renewing local pride in a brand that was struggling. The striking transformation draws on Carlsberg Germany’s home city to reconnect Holsten with its honest, hardworking roots. Injecting a new sense of craft into the visual identity, Design Bridge have balanced heritage with modernity to herald a new era for this much-loved local brand. 

Mike Stride, Creative Director at Design Bridge London, commented: “Holsten is one of Carlsberg’s most consumed beers in Germany and it’s Hamburg’s most iconic, synonymous with the everyday beer drinker. As craft beer has grown in popularity, Holsten’s local reputation had declined. Despite its quality taste credentials achieved by generations of skilled, passionate brewers, Holsten’s perception had shifted to a more industrial, mass-produced beer. Our challenge was to refresh the brand for the contemporary market without alienating the brand’s existing loyal consumer base.”

Design Bridge travelled to Germany to explore Hamburg’s rich history and the Holsten brewery archives. Recognising that the impact of the knight had been lost across the brand through an over-polished, mass-produced design approach, Design Bridge seized the opportunity to re-imagine this key brand asset.

Taking inspiration from the brand’s deeply embedded connection to local culture, Design Bridge have recrafted the knight, putting authentic historical details back into this recognisable icon. By turning the knight around he now proudly rides forwards – a significant shift from the previous outdated armed warrior to a progressive, flag-bearing beacon of leadership. Removing the shield-shaped label on pack further elevates the knight. Design Bridge have also introduced a light and refreshing teal into the colour palette. This references the oxidised copper of the knight statue that sits on top of Holsten’s historic brewery tower.

Drawing on typography and labels found in the Holsten archives, Design Bridge created a new bespoke wordmark influenced by Hamburg’s rich architecture. To evoke the merchant work ethic that built the port city, much of the new visual identity has been crafted by hand, creating a functional and proud brand that appeals to its loyal consumer base and everyday beer drinkers, as well as opening the brand up for new consumers to enjoy.  

Mike Stride, Creative Director at Design Bridge, continued: “We have brought craft and pride back to Holsten, balancing the brand’s industrial history with contemporary culture. By drawing inspiration from Hamburg’s harbour and the determined work ethic and Hanseatic directness of its people, the new design represents the brand’s personality and authentic brewing heritage, as well as those who drink it, while granting Holsten a fresh appeal in the wider beer market.”

A bold move on from its previous mass-produced look and feel, Design Bridge have also redesigned the packaging across the Holsten portfolio, and the new brand world extends beyond this to include on-trade and off-trade touchpoints, such as glassware, beer lenses, coasters.

Svenja Wohlers, Senior Brand Manager at Holsten, commented: “Over the years Holsten has proven its strong and enduring presence in the Hamburg beer market, as well outside of the city borders. By collaborating with Design Bridge we have succeeded in creating a refreshed visual identity that brings a sense of pride back into our brand. Balancing a new level of the craft and detail that is connected to our heritage, the brand world also feels bold, keeping Holsten relevant in the ever-changing beer sector.” 

Source: Design Bridge London

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