Heineken's New Red Star Beer Cans Want Your Attention

Heineken new can design Courtesy Heineken

In an effort to lure more eyes in the beer aisle, Heineken has redesigned the label on its cans around a bright red star.

The new look loses some of the brand’s familiar green to emphasize the aluminum. These new “Star Cans” will be launched globally throughout the year, and many markets are expected to roll them out ahead of the summer beer season.

The new cans have been in the works with packaging design agency DBOD since early 2012. Heineken also redesigned its bottles to have long necks instead of short ones in 2011, and those made it to the U.S. last year. “We gather a lot of consumer feedback and insights for every Heineken redesign,” said Mark van Iterson, manager of Heineken global design and concept. He calls the new cans part of “regular maintenance” on the design, which is updated every four to five years.

Here’s how Van Iterson describes the changes:

Metal is manly. Heineken has already been targeting the globe-trotting, James Bond-wannabe demographic in its advertising, and the new can tries to play into the image: “The visibility of the aluminum material creates a fresh, masculine look and an open character. By showing off the packaging material, we underline that we have nothing to hide. Bare aluminum also looks fresh and thirst-quenching when you take the can out of the fridge.” Not that there aren’t still hints of the old, green can. “We will never lose the green color,” Van Iterson told me in an e-mail. “Heineken green is one of the core visual elements of the brand, and will always be. This doesn’t mean that always everything has to be green all over.”

Even the logo gets tweaked. “We redefined the green racetrack emblem on the packaging, taking out the white center, to give it a sense of transparency,” Van Iterson explains on the website.

Heineken believes its red star is recognizable. “The red star is one of Heineken’s most important visual symbols and has always been part of the brand identity,” Van Iterson writes. ”We’ve made it larger and more visible so it really stands out to consumers.” Patrick Stal, managing director of Interbrand Amsterdam, thinks the larger red star will now mean you can tell when someone is drinking a Heineken can from across the street, making the can more iconic. “The star,” Stal says, ”is timeless and contemporary.”

Packaging designers explore many methods to grab shoppers’ attention. It’s no accident that the mascots on cereal boxes, for instance, tend to gaze down to the height of a child in the supermarket aisle. “Because it’s new, people will notice it again. The aluminum, the traditional green racetrack, and the large red star are a very powerful combination,” Van Iterson says. That renewed attention is something Heineken needs: The global market share for the beer slipped slightly, from 1.5 percent in 2008 to 1.4 percent in 2013, according to researcher Euromonitor International.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.