Chicago Span studio renames Asian carp ‘Copi’ to help US biodiversity

We all know the idea that certain plants and animals should not be eaten to save them from extinction and protect biodiversity. What we don’t hear so often is that eating After of a particular food can help the environment. But this is exactly the case in the USA with regard to “Asian carp”.

Asian carp is not actually a single species but a coined term to describe four species of fish: grass carp, black carp, silver carp and bighead. In the 1970s, American fish farmers began importing these fish from China to clean their commercial ponds of algae. Unfortunately, they have become invasive and now have a bio-density of 70% in North American fresh waters.

This has caused many problems for the environment. For example, black carp feed on native mussels and snails, some of which were already endangered. Grass carp can alter food webs in a new environment by altering plant, invertebrate, and fish communities. And silver carp feed on the plankton necessary for native fish larvae and mussels.

More immediately, the spread of Asian carp has also harmed the American fishing industry because it crowds out other fish and, because it is not popular among consumers itself, it is considered to wrong as a “dirty fish”.

With this in mind, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with other state and federal departments and crisis management specialists Tetra Tech, commissioned local studio Span to rebrand the asian carp.






Taste-wise, there was no problem with the fish itself; how well it is perceived in the United States, says Nick Adam, design director at Span. “It’s the second most consumed fish and the second healthiest in the world,” he points out. “This is due to its flavor, the number of proteins and the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids it has. The only other fish that compares in terms of health benefits and cleanliness is wild salmon from Alaska.”

Span located the crux of the problem early on. “Looking at the original brief, my colleague Bud Rodecker and I were like, ‘They’re asking for a logo, and what they really need is a name and a strategic identity system,'” remembers Nick. “As ‘Asian carp’ is just a coined term, mostly used by people in the United States who are not Asian. In our proposal, we have created a plan to rename the fish based on qualities that are truthful, to replace the slang term which is not really accepted anywhere in the world.”

Span’s plan included bringing in systems design studio Daylight to conduct research on perceptions of food and fish. In addition to adding public relations firm Mr. Harris & Co who would plan the launch event and lead public relations before and after its debut.










Span renamed the fish Copi and created a logo and brand image designed to address public misconceptions about this mild-tasting fish. The centerpiece of the new visual identity is a stencil-like logo that cleverly incorporates the fish and presents it in a clean, neutral way.

Span has also created a branding toolkit, which includes three open source typefaces (Gelasio, DM Sans and DM Mono) so that retailers, restaurants and other businesses can easily use them in their branding materials.

The name of the game

Changing a fish’s name has been a tried and true strategy for other fish. The orange roughy was originally known as the slimehead; The Chilean sea bass was known as the Patagonian toothfish and the peekytoe crab was formerly known as the mud crab. The same strategy also worked for other types of food.

For example, when the Chinese fruit known as yang tao was grown in New Zealand, it became commonly known as Chinese gooseberries. Exporters had more success, however, when they renamed it kiwi, a name that has become so ubiquitous that few people even know the original.

One of the things that all of these names have in common is their brevity. “Copi is a great name: short, to the point, and easy to say,” said Colleen Callahan, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “What restaurant won’t be intrigued by reading Copi tacos or Copi burgers on a menu?”




In case you’re wondering, the new name is a play on “hearty,” because that’s exactly what these fish are. And the hope is that this new marketing effort will boost sales of this invasive fish, helping to prevent them from decimating other fish populations and restoring an ecological balance to waterways.

“According to one estimate, 20 to 50 million pounds of Copi could be harvested from the Illinois River alone each year, with hundreds of millions more in waterways from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast,” says John Goss, former White House adviser on invasive carp. . “So enjoying Copi in a restaurant or at home is one of the simplest things people can do to help protect our waterways and Lake Michigan.”

The new branding was launched in June, and it’s already a success, says Nick. “After two months of name launch, Copi is currently available in eight states, and we’re already hitting the year-over-year numbers. Copi is now appearing in some of my favorite restaurants, there have also been James Beard award-winning chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants serving Copi The Copi project is a fantastic example of design innovation capable of having a large-scale social impact.

About Jonathan Bell

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