April 30, 2013

Your QR Codes Are Making Us QQ

Your QR Codes Are Making Us QQ

We’ve learned to accept the fact that we are now living in a Blade Runner-like reality, where automatons masquerade as humans and mobile apps are being designed for the purpose of destroying our free will and transforming us into playthings for our digital overlords. Or maybe we’re just being paranoid.

Anyway, there are certain futuristic services and devices that are becoming overdone, and the one we’re going to discuss today is the quick response (QR) code. QR codes are the markers that manufacturers want displayed on their packaging so that people with the appropriate mobile phone applications can scan them and be routed to whatever website that will explain the product’s finer details. QR codes can also be used for hip and ironic tattoos that will be considered incredibly original for about 15 minutes.

Our problem with QR codes is that they can be thoroughly ugly. When you take a sleek and well-designed package and slap a QR code on it arbitrarily, it’s like taking a beautiful and elegant woman and putting her into a pair of sweatpants that say “Juicy” on the back. In other words, it seriously cheapens the product.

Fortunately, QR codes do not all have to be identical. There is quite a bit of design wiggle room when it comes to incorporating a QR code into the package concept. Allow us to explain further, would you?

Designer QR Codes

Yes, QR codes are working their way into galleries and exhibits. While barcodes can only incorporate a finite amount of information within its framework, QR codes can contain massive amounts of alphanumeric data and have a practically limitless number of design options. Color, for example. Excitingly, QR codes can be designed in colors other than black!

Also, imagery can actually be incorporated into the codes, up to a point. In an ideal world, the imagery will be designed along with the coding itself, but it’s possible to lay design concepts throughout already established code if you follow a few basic rules:

  • Remember to scan after every design addition to make sure that you can either correct or eliminate any problems that may develop if the code readability is compromised.
  • Do not tamper with the border. The data must be kept separate from the image if the code is to scan properly. Step away from the border.
  • Keep any imaging within the three corner squares. They are extremely important for reasons we’re sure you wouldn’t understand (we’re sure because we don’t fully understand, either. Kidding! We’re geniuses).
  • Did you know that QR codes can be hand-drawn and still work? There are also zealots that have made functioning QR code crop circles. Not really a rule, we just thought it was cool.

QR Codes and Internet Marketing

Internet marketing is really the only type of marketing that matters anymore, and if you want to promote your business, having a QR code on your product is certainly a step in the right direction.

Of course, QR codes aren’t limited to the products themselves; they can be fashioned onto practically any advertising material: brochures, business cards, signage; the list goes on. Frankly, you’d be an idiot not to have your QR code imbedded on everything, up to and including your dental work.

Having aesthetically pleasing and/or interesting QR codes boosts your cache even higher. While we’re certainly proponents of keeping designs simple and unaffected, we’re okay with taking a few liberties with QR codes, so long as they don’t wind up completely overwhelming the design of your product.

We’ve seen QR codes made of M&Ms, with weird gradients and seizure-inducing textures. The point is: you want your QR code to entice people to scan it.

So, what have we learned today? We learned that the digital machines are coming for us in the near future. We learned that QR codes are the wave of the present and the future, and that only a fool would attempt to ignore that fact. We learned that QR codes can be manipulated into looking like works of art. Finally, we learned that in the world of Internet marketing, you need to use every weapon in your arsenal to crush your feeble competitors, even if it means paying some fool to press your QR code into some unsuspecting farmer’s crops.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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