qr code for businesses

Over the last few months since our article on “Responsive Website Design” in which we mentioned QR codes (Quick Response Code), I have been asked a fair amount about them and how companies can implement them into their business. So here is a little bit about the subject.

QR codes have been around for a while (since 1994). Toyota invented QR codes to track vehicles and parts during manufacturing. Toyota would place them on their vehicles and parts for identification with a quick scan of a QR reader. In the last few years QR codes have taken off in mainstream business because Smartphones are now equipped with QR reader applications.

QR codes are a type of two-dimensional bar code (as seen above) that can be read using Smartphones and other devices. By scanning the code the user is linked directly to text, emails, websites, phone numbers and more. The beauty of QR codes is that the information contained in them is stored online and changes or updates to that information can be done in minutes.

Keep the code simple.

To avoid readability issues I recommend the QR code image be black, no less than 1” square and have a 1/4” white space running around, this allows an easy scan for the user. The QR code is meant to enable a user to get information quickly and easily; therefore, issues with readability can defeat the QR codes purpose.

Keep the content of your QR code to a simple website URL (targeted web page), a small line of text, a small text message, or, if used as a V Card – just your name, phone and e-mail. The more data your QR code contains, the larger more complex the code will be, and the more difficult it will be to scan, again defeating the purpose.

Remember that the information contained in the QR code should be designed for use on a mobile device.

Here is an online example of a QR code.

This QR code is designed to allow the user to easily scan the QR code directly from their computer screen, capturing the contact information on their Smartphone. This saves them from keying the information into their Smartphone. Since the website is a Responsive design website they can easily view the website on their Smartphone or tablet devices without any problems.

The possibilities of use are endless.

Product Labels: Place a QR code label onto an item you have manufactured, guiding people to a parts or consumables page making it easier for your customers to order, find specifications or even download assembly instructions.

Business Fronts: Add a QR code to your business front window directing people to your website products page, so even when you are closed people can browse and get maybe the information they are looking for.

Trade Shows: Great for exhibition stands, a QR code on display makes it easy for people at your stand or passing by to collect and store your information for a later reference.

Product Packaging: Allow space for a QR code directing customers to a product page where they can learn more about the product.

Print Marketing Campaigns: If you advertise using product sell sheets, banners, posters or magazine ads, using QR codes here is practically mandatory.  The code used here should link to a mobile-friendly webpage specifically created to match the campaign used in your print material.

Realtors: Realtors can use QR codes on property listing posters they leave in public places (code will lead to a mobile friendly version of online property listing, including pictures, address and map), on their business cards (clients will scan and contact info will automatically be added to their phone’s address book), on the property’s For Sale sign (the code would take the user directly to an online listing where they can immediately learn more about the property while sitting in their car).

Be realistic where you use QR codes.

I have seen incorrect QR code usage everywhere, from a “yellow” QR code on a poster which a QR reader can not read to “moving” advertisement on the back of transit bus to one that was obviously not tested before use and directed users to different website than the one intended.

QR codes are a great tool for business if well thought out and used properly.  If you want more information about how to make QR codes work for your business do not hesitate to contact me. START Communications works with its clients to create QR codes, select appropriate information for their QR codes and apply the codes to existing or new sales and marketing material.

Eric Beal is a professional graphic designer (CGD) and owner of START Communications who provides design services to local and national clients.

© 2014 START Communications

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