It seems that everybody these days has something to say about QR codes, some even going so far as to say that qr codes kill kittens.  They’ve been deemed the Nickleback of marketing tools, overplayed and just not that enjoyable of an experience. I’ve also heard them called robot vomit, which didn’t click for me until I spent a long time looking at QR codes. (Seriously, if a robot could vomit, they would expel a QR code).

And of course there is WTF QR Codes, a tumblr where people can upload anything that negatively portrays QR codes.

Where is all of this hate for QR codes coming from? Are they really that much of an inconvenience or an eyesore that we have to take our complaints to the media?  Last time I checked, QR codes seem to have a lot of good stuff going for them.

Shall we dig deeper?

QR codes are hugely popular, and are still climbing the charts.

Researchers recently found that QR usage and scanning are expanding at a rapid rate.

  • Users scan QR Codes 10x per month — up 22% from the previous quarter.
  • Scanning  has increased by a whopping 1300% from one year ago.

If you look up “QR codes” in Google Trends, online discussions of QR codes have spiked, showing that more and more people are becoming curious about this technology.

QR Codes are trending

QR codes aren’t “so yesterday.” We have to remember that just because we are savvy doesn’t mean the general public is.

For those who dislike how QR codes look—they can be changed!

Who says that all QR codes have to look like robot vomit? These barcodes are easily modified to reflect a certain style or brand image. Hamilton Chan of Mashable.com describes in detail how to make your QR code more beautiful, but for those of you who don’t want to leave the page, I’ll give you the rundown.

1. Add color! Your QR code doesn’t have to be just black and white. Do make sure there is enough contrast between the code and the background so that it can be scanned.

orange qr code via flickr adam tinworth

2. Round the corners! Rounded corners will make the code seem less industrial and more friendly and approachable.

3. Add your logo or other image! Make a statement and add dimensionality (30% of a QR code’s data can be obstructed for it to still work). We did this to a QR code in a piece of our marketing material, and it really makes a statement.

It’s not the tool that stinks, it’s the idea.

I think many people like to downplay the QR code because of how they’ve seen it used.  They have never experienced a QR code being used for really creative applications.  There are so many cool things that people have come up with using the QR code, so it was hard to choose just a few. Here are some examples that stood out to me.

QR codes can be used for practical purposes

Health care providers are now using QR codes on medical bracelets, as it allows doctors and nurses to easily scan a patient’s bracelet to get all of their information.  This makes the bracelet more compact (no need for a long list of ailments and medications) and easily readable.

medical bracelet with qr code

QR codes can be used to weave together art, tradition, and technology

Los Angeles artist Guillermo Bert saw a resemblance between the pixelated QR codes and the traditional symbols on tapestries of indigenous tribes. To tell the tribe’s story and combine past and present, Bert created tapestries with QR codes embedded, calling them “Encoded Textiles.”  You can read more about the project here.

QR codes can be used to promote anything

Really want someone to learn more about you? Put a QR code tattoo on your body and I guarantee people will be curious enough to scan it.  (Or, you can be like everyone else and put a QR code on your business card. Less permanence).

QR Code Tattoo

Image via Geekless Tech

QR codes provide information

The food industry loves QR codes.  As a way to provide more transparency on how a food was procured or made, both food manufacturers and restaurants alike are putting QR codes on their food. One sushi restaurant even made their QR codes edible, so that diners can see exactly where their raw fish is coming from (proving the freshness and good fishing practices).

QR code sushi

Image via springwise.com

Did I mention QR codes are free and easy to use?

That’s right. FREE. Does Augmented Reality (AR) and NFC offer free codes? NO! Take your fees and get out of here. Plus, AR and and NFC require so much work to create any kind of compelling content that most of us small-to-medium sized businesses can’t afford the time or budget.  All you have to do with a QR code is visit any number of sites to create your personal code, like this one or this one.

Ready to get started?

QR codes are a great way to integrate print materials with your online presence.  With more and more people buying smartphones, it’s important that we give mobile users an interactive experience, one that engages them and one that is useful.

If you are ready to see how you can get creative with QR codes, contact us today!

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