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The Rebranding of Fiesta® San Antonio

By Paulina Artieda and John R. Melleky

Known for its festivities and colorful traditions, Fiesta® San Antonio is a cultural event that is celebrated by millions yearly. This cultural experience annually attracts the local San Antonio community, yet has increasingly seen more attendance from a new generation of Fiesta®-goers that are coming from the Texas region as well as out of state. With the 125th Anniversary quickly approaching in 2016, Fiesta® San Antonio set out to rebrand its logo that has been in use for the past 20 years. Known as the “Cascaron” logo, this logo served its purpose as part of the Centennial Celebration in 1991.

Over time, however, the logo was used less and less in printed materials and due to the complexities within the organizational structure of Fiesta® San Antonio, the logo was not used as an official brand identity among its collaborations and communication materials. While the umbrella organization, the Fiesta® San Antonio Commission, used the logo consistently, all other festival activations were not adequately branded and in some cases displayed their own version of a Fiesta® San Antonio logo.

THE FIESTA® SAN ANTONIO OFFICIAL POSTER: Each year Fiesta® San Antonio accepts poster designs from the community and picks a winning design that will become the official poster of the festival. The winning poster is celebrated at an unveiling event where the artist is recognized and the print itself can be purchased.

In creating a consistent brand identity, it’s important to recognize that a logo is a visual way to identify a company and is a part of a branding family. A logo is not a brand but a chief visual component of an overall brand that can be made up of shapes, letters, spacing and colors. Logos represent the essence of an organization.

Over the past five years, the word Fiesta® has been an integral part of the poster design and has been interpreted by the artist. This artwork of the word Fiesta® was then used in additional communication materials such as: print, signage, merchandise and medals for the year.

SPONSORS & PARTICIPATING MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS (PMOS): Throughout the years sponsors have also been given the liberties to use the word Fiesta® in various fonts and treatments within their signage. This has led to a diluted brand identity for the Fiesta® San Antonio Commission and in return has made it more complicated to keep track of official sponsorship opportunities. PMOs, the nonprofits that run official Fiesta® events, and other organizations have not been required to utilize the “Cascaron” logo nor have had to have signage at the event that promotes it as an official Fiesta® San Antonio event.

A New Approach

As part of the strategic plan started in 2012-13 for Fiesta® San Antonio, one of the five objectives was to “Tell the Fiesta® San Antonio Story.” The first task in this objective was to create a brand identity and guidelines that could be consistently utilized by all organizations and sponsorships involved in the festival. In addition, the new identity had to be reflective of how this event offers a festive fun celebration that is tied to cultural traditions and is inviting to communities around the world.

In creating a consistent brand identity, it’s important to recognize that a logo is a visual way to identify a company and is a part of a branding family. A logo is not a brand but a chief visual component of an overall brand that can be made up of shapes, letters, spacing and colors. Logos represent the essence of an organization.

In order to launch this new strategic plan, the Fiesta® San Antonio Commission developed a RFP that called for a marketing firm to take on the rebranding project. After reviewing multiple proposals, Mercury Mambo was selected and awarded the business. Mercury Mambo specializes in multicultural marketing and has had a long reputation in developing strong campaigns and experiences for the Hispanic community. This was vital in the decision-making process for Fiesta® San Antonio since 88% of the festival’s participants identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino.

Mercury Mambo set out to discover key insights and conducted a competitive market review in order to develop three visual concepts to choose from. Each concept explored how Fiesta® San Antonio can evolve its identity beyond the local community and also connect with new millennial consumers that have been increasingly attending the festival each year. During these explorations it was key to incorporate how the festival itself is representative of a fusion of arts, heritage and culture. As a requirement, the new brand identity had to incorporate a vibrancy that was reflective of this fusion and in addition include the traditional bright colors that have been a part of the Mexican/Hispanic legacy of Fiesta® San Antonio. Emphasized previously, this identity also had to appeal to the next  generation of Fiesta® San Antonio-goers, the millennials (this also would allow the organization to meet a second objective of the strategic plan to expand our outreach) and lastly it needed to easily become an extension for the 125th anniversary of Fiesta® San Antonio, which occurs in 2016.

In order to obtain board support, concept designs were tested amongst focus groups. These groups were compiled of board and decision makers, fans and newly exposed millennials. Findings from the focus groups highlighted that Fiesta® San Antonio has multiple meanings to everyone and can be reflective of a multitude of experiences. In other words, there is not one iconic image of the festival or of what it represents that can connect with all attendees. Since the festival is a fusion of the arts, heritage and culture, everyone connects with their own personal experience carried by family traditions and friends. Focus group individuals identified over 30 words that they felt represented the festival, yet what was consistent among them and the board was that the logo needed to feel fun and whimsical to convey the celebration that takes place at Fiesta® San Antonio. Some of the identified words will later be conveyed as icons in the brand family.

The New Logo
With research and insights in place, the Mercury Mambo team finalized a logo, brand identity and brand family  that positions Fiesta® San Antonio as a traditional yet forward-thinking cultural event. As seen here, the brand becomes a one of a kind identity with hand drawn typography that conveys the craftsmanship and traditions that has for many years been the essence of Fiesta® San Antonio. The vibrant, bold colors are also representative of the beautiful celebrations and ceremonies that take place with all of the organizations, parades and events at the festival. By positioning the word “Fiesta” as its own icon and typography, this establishes a brand identity that can be consistent among the different activations throughout the event and most importantly builds brand awareness and recognition of the festival throughout the world. In addition, “San Antonio” was also positioned as a key icon and typography in order to create a unique official lock up of the logo and make it easy for new audiences to give it a destination as a cultural event.

The Brand Family

The simplicity of the official logo makes it easy to use throughout many mediums. With that in mind, Mercury Mambo felt there was space to create a second treatment of the official logo large mediums, such as billboards and large prints. Because Fiesta® San Antonio can identify as art, culture and heritage, three icons were developed that appeal to outsiders and current festival-goers. This logo, known as the Mural Logo, has the three icons within the typography – this includes the Alamo, a guitar and a folkloric dancer (as shown above). In addition to being representative  of some of the unique elements of Fiesta® San Antonio, they were also commonly identified by focus group individuals as icons that spark tradition. These icons were not only integrated into the Mural logo but also became an extension of the brand identity.

They can be used throughout different merchandise and branding in correlation with the official logo. The Fiesta Store® was excited to explore new designs on t-shirts, pens, medals, etc. Banners microsites and social media sites can also integrate the icons as part of the “look-and-feel” of Fiesta® San Antonio. This design approach was directly reflective of how the audience experiences the festival and their interpretation of Fiesta® San Antonio through icons or visual. For this reason, Mercury Mambo felt that it was important to extend the brand family with icons and it was a unique way of visually telling the story and history of the brand. This was also a turnkey strategy by giving the audience, particularly millennials, options to explore and in turn customize their interpretation of the festival. They can do this through digital customization on their social media channels or simply by picking merchandise designed with the icon of their choice. This type of engagement and interaction with the brand creates strong awareness and brand loyalty. Additional icons were developed to highlight specific traditions or icons of Fiesta® San Antonio, they included: Miss Fiesta Crown, General Crown, Fireworks and a Medal.

The brand family was also inclusive of categories that needed specific logos. Using the official logo as a foundation, additional proprietary logos were developed to unify the brand identity of Fiesta® San Antonio family.

The first category were the Pillar Logos that are used to segment different marketing and sponsor initiatives of the Fiesta® San Antonio Commission. Pillar Logos included: Fiesta® San Antonio Community, Mobility, Technology & Engagement. Organizations choose participation in one or more pillar. These pillars are represented by one certain color that is tied to sponsor listings, proposals and other marketing collateral.

A second category needed to identify the main programs within the Fiesta® San  Antonio umbrella that already had their own identity and brand. This included The Fiesta® San Antonio Commission, Miss Fiesta San Antonio® and The Fiesta Store®. The Commission logo is similar to the Fiesta® logo. However, for Miss Fiesta® and The Fiesta Store®, new logos with icons were created.

Fiesta® San Antonio also has a Charitable Component. The programs under that entity included: Fiesta Verde® (recycling), Fiesta Safe Rides® and Fiesta® Fit. The emphasis color chosen is green and has wording in green, along with the tool lines being that same green color.

A fourth category included headline art and a logo identity for the more festive celebrations or sayings that need brand consistency.

This included Fiesta® Fiesta, Fiesta® Carnival and ¡Viva Fiesta®! Each of these events utilizes the main Fiesta® brand with the words in a pink script.

To help distinguish official events and sponsors, a stamp-type logo was designed utilizing the Fiesta® from the main brand that could be given to sponsors and events to promote that they are a part of the entire festival. This special logo allowed the organization to use it at their leisure and help maintain control over the main brand of Fiesta® San Antonio.

Lastly, the 125th Anniversary logo was developed in anticipation for a grand celebration marking a significant milestone for Fiesta® San Antonio and its community. This utilized the purple tool lines and a specialty script highlighting 125 years on the top of the logo.

The Brand Guidelines

With an elaborate collection of unified logos and brand elements, it was integral for the Fiesta® San Antonio Commission to supply brand guidelines and restrictions to its collaborators and organizations that will use the official logo on their communication materials. The purpose of these brand guidelines is to assure that the integrity of the official logo is maintained. Guidelines include requirements on sizing, color palettes, logo safe areas, the do’s and don’ts, co-branding and much more. In addition, the brand guidelines secure that a unified message is delivered among communications, consistency among all organizations  and prominent brand awareness to its audience and employees.

Most recently, the launch of the new logo took place on November 12, 2014 and was incorporated with the reveal of the new poster design for 2015. The official logo has and will continue to be integrated into new poster designs for years to come. Fiesta® San Antonio Commission and its board members are excited to continue to introduce the new identity and in addition begin the process of creating a solid, successful and recognizable identity for Fiesta® San Antonio and any official moving forward.

To read the article in PDF format click here.

As published in the International Festivals & Events Association’s “i.e.: the business of international events” quarterly magazine. The premiere association supporting and enabling festivals and events worldwide. For more information on the IFEA, go to: