So now we all know what QR codes are and how others have used them, how should they be used to their full advantage?
Reason for Use
A QR code should form part of the functionality of an overall idea or concept rather than the other way round, i.e. trying to make an idea or concept fit into a QR code.
Do not use a QR code just for the sake of using one, as this is when companies start just placing codes around at random and the consumer has no idea why it is there. It should be useful to the consumer as well as generating talk about the company. For example Tesco’s idea talked about in part 1 where they set up virtual stores in metro stations, shows an innovative way of using the QR code as people can use the codes to do their shopping.
Another idea is by three students in their joint senior project in Urban Planning. In their project they used QR codes to provide guests with more information at city gardens. As a visitor arrives they are able to download a QR Reader and have someone show them how to use it. The students clearly thought about how to effectively use a QR code and implement it in a way that benefits the visitors and the centres.
One more example of this is Project Paperclip, shown in the video below. They set up a photographic exhibition and next to each photo is a QR code, this links to an app where photographer Nuno Serrão “was also responsible for co-creating the interactive ambient soundscapes that accompany” the photographs.
A QR code should form part of a design concept, as just using squares with dots can look boring. Using different colours or logos as part of the design would make the QR code stand apart from others. It also helps the consumer identify which brand the code belongs to. This is something which would prove very useful for the future, as the more people start to use QR codes the less information needs to be given with them, this may mean one day being able to just put up a QR code with a brand name/logo on a poster and people utilise it.
However, you do not want to customise the QR code to the point where it is not clear to the consumer that it is a QR code or it does not work. For example, the QR code below by Corkbin has incorporated the logo and some colour into the code, without taking away from the obviousness that it is a QR code.
Whereas the next QR code by Louis Vuitton may be distinguishable as a QR code (just) but the silly cartoons on it has nothing to do with the company. This would mean a lot of people would not trust it as actually from that brand name.
You could also integrate the QR code into a bigger design, much like Disney has done in the image below.
As we saw in part one some QR codes have been placed in some very unusual places. We would suggest putting them somewhere where they are accessible, i.e. not across a train platform, or on a billboard on a busy motorway. Somewhere like a train station is good, as long as there is signal there so that the link can be used, otherwise it is a waste of money and time putting that code in place.
QR codes must also be placed where it is obvious what they are and how to use them. For example, if put on the back of some packaging on its own it may be viewed as a barcode, but if accompanied by some explanation of where the link leads people are more likely to realise what it is and then scan it.
For example, the image below shows a code with the Facebook ‘Like’ logo above it, there is no explanation however of what you are going to be liking, the company or that particular bottle of wine? And there is no way of knowing if they are even related or not.
Many businesses are using QR codes as a link to be able to download the company’s app for either Apple or Android, for example Corkbin’s QR code above will take you to a mobile friendly page with a link on it to your chosen app store where you can download the brand’s app to your phone/tablet.
Here at Fishrod, Gavin came up with a very simple and logical idea of how QR codes should be used. Instead of using a random QR reader to scan the code, each company should have their own app to download. It is within this app where the user can find a built in QR reader to use in conjunction with the company’s promotional QR codes. This will assist the ease of using the codes for the consumer, as it would eliminate how many people wonder what to do with the code, and so it could mean the code could do so much more for the business.
For example, I have on my phone an app for a certain beauty product brand, within this app is videos on how to do your own make-up or nails. They could use QR codes to take you to a link to download more videos to your app, this would mean that the consumer is able to keep utilising the app long after downloading. The QR codes could be free as part of an advertising campaign (‘Get this Look’ – where you get a video on how to do your make up like the model in the poster) or free with different products (you buy some nail varnish and so get a ‘How To’ video for nail designs).
It is quite obvious that QR codes are scanned by smart phones, and should therefore lead to mobile friendly content rather than a dead end. It is shocking, however, to find that so many do not do this, and many people get left with an error code or an inaccessible webpage.
If the link isn’t directing the user to a mobile app download page then the next alternative is that it is taking them to a webpage. If your company does not already have a mobile friendly web page then you need to take a few steps back and get that sorted first before trying to integrate a QR code into your marketing plans.
I will end with a very simple overview of how to effectively use a QR code for your business.
1. The reason behind using the QR code must be viable, and not just using a QR code for the sake of it.
2. They must be designed in a way that makes them stand out from other QR codes.
3. Placement of the QR code is very important. Key points to remember are: Internet access, accessibility (dangerous or not) and if a user will notice it or not.
4. An app for the company/brand/business should be used in conjunction with the QR code for ease of use.
5. The QR code MUST lead somewhere that is mobile friendly, or part of an app.
But what are your thoughts on this? Do you think we are right or wrong? Or do you think there is not right or wrong way to use QR codes?
Please comment below.