How Lucha Libre Continues to Inspire Colorful, Vibrant Branding Systems

Posted inDesign Inspiration

I’m a firm believer in the endurance of a carefully developed idea, so I wanted to use this month to talk about creating a strong concept. In the branding world, we all try to make unique approaches for our clients. To play with my perspective, I like to explore how creatives from around the world approach the same concept. Research quickly reveals that you can use a variety of possible strategies to create something special.

Take, for example, Lucha Libre, Mexico’s vibrant take on wrestling. Many elements set this entertaining and eccentric discipline apart from other kinds of wrestling. Without a doubt, its most recognizable feature is Luchadores, the sport’s incredibly tough, acrobatic fighters. Like American wrestlers, Luchadores are divided into hero and villain roles, Los Técnicos and Los Rudos, respectively. Los Técnicos follow the rules, while Los Rudos break them.

Luchadores Blue Demon and El Santo

To make this concept more entertaining, some fighters wear colorful masks to protect their identity, while others grow long hair as a symbol of strength. This dynamic is best illustrated by the infamous recurring Máscara vs. Cabellera fights. In this challenge, the loser is threatened with the sport’s most humiliating punishment: the public removal of his mask or hair.

The public unmasking of a Luchadore

In Mexico, Lucha Libre is almost as famous as soccer, and provides a thought-provoking lens for examining the culture. Businesses around the world have explored the Luchador concept to provide their products with an authenticity that appeals to Latinx audiences. In one notable example, the cannabis brand Luchador uses a colorful wrestling mask as the face of its products, which come in intriguing Mexican flavors. The tequila brand Técnicos y Rudos uses the categories of Lucha as a visual system for two different house styles of liquor in gorgeous, charismatic bottles.

Anton Burmistrov’s label design for Técnicos y Rudos tequila
An ad for THC tincture by California-based cannabis brand Luchador

At our studio, the owner of Cabo Mexican restaurant Así y Asado challenged us to bring his fascination with Lucha Libre to life. After becoming familiar with the business and its audience of American tourists and expatriates, we hired New Zealand illustrator Sam Broad to help us take the concept to the next level.

Cato Brand Partners’ Lucha-inspired mural concept for Así y Asado

We combined the unique style of Lucha Libre with the restaurant’s main ingredients to create an array of quirky, colorful, and powerful characters. We paired these figures with fun, eclectic names and a personalized typeface that supported this distinctive visual language. All those elements allowed us to imagine a fight between salty and sweet flavors, using the restaurant’s walls as a big canvas. The result was a thorough brand system, cool environment, and fun souvenirs that help the restaurant stand out from its competition and create more revenue.

The finished mural in Así y Asado’s restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

It’s exciting to see designers from around the world take inspiration from similar concepts while generating completely different outcomes. With deep research, vision, and passion, we can produce interesting and powerful results for our clients that hopefully will stand the test of time. I’ll continue to share good branding practices as I find them.

This column will be dedicated to drawing attention to Latin-American creatives and companies excelling at bringing creativity and new ideas to life. Stay tuned for more.

Ricardo Saca is the US and Mexico Managing Partner for Cato Brand Partners, a Global Design and Branding Consultancy. He is a Master in Branding from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and has 20+ years of experience working with a wide range of companies, from startups to airlines. He is an animal lover and a plant-based cyclist.