A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first designed for the automotive industry. More recently, the system has become popular outside of the industry due to its fast readability and comparatively large storage capacity. Initially the codes consisted of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background, however more designers are finding that QR codes are flexible enough to be able customise from the standard checkerboard to add an element of design.
QR codes are generally used in print or sometimes on TV and scanned by smartphone users as a quick and easy way to reach a website without the hassle of typing in a complex web address. There’s something rather gimmicky about this device, but once you have used a QR code once or twice to access a website on your phone, it’s easy to understand why it’s fast catching on.
In order to really get mileage out of a QR code it should be used as part of a Google analytics campaign and tracked in order to get some data back on how many people are using the code. The process for doing this is documented here and can be carried out for any client who is running GA on their website.
As QR codes become more and more common place, it will be interesting to see just how creatively they can be used. We spotted this innovative use recently which replaces the need for a physical user manual and it’s a really clever way of attaching some important information to an object using a very small label area.
Here’s an ingenious use of the QR code in Korea in July 2011, where Tesco wanted to increase market share without opening more stores.
Subsequently a few copycat retailers have done a similar exercise with high street pop-up shops.
Here are some other ways brands can use QR codes:
Placing a QR code on the bottom of a till receipt is a simple and cost effective way of engaging with a consumer especially for brands with a mobile savvy demographic.
Why not place a QR code on the bottom of all printed and digital communications, directing the recipient to a landing page with extended content?
How often do you look at the seat in front of you when on the train? Why not put a QR code on the back of every seat and sell the advertising space?
On business cards
The humble business card could do with a face-lift. Why not add a QR code to the card? Point it at a landing page with more detail on the business or individual.
In car showrooms
Putting QR codes on cars could immediately send interested prospects to a mobile landing page where they can see details of mileage, performance, price and so on.
Here are some amusing examples of QR codes, which clearly were done as a result of jumping on the bandwagon – not well thought through at all.