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Why Graphic Designers Must Know QR Code Capabilities

A graphic designer posted a question in a design Facebook group, asking other designers if they had ever scanned a QR code. The response was disappointing in a shocking way. It was disappointing that most hadn’t scanned a QR code. The shocking part was that most had no idea how QR codes have the power to further their projects and careers.

Many of the respondents to the question pointed to NFC as “the new technology” but hadn’t used that either, or knew how it worked. While many answered simply that they hadn’t scanned a QR code or even knew what they were, too many took the chance to call the technology “dead,” “useless” and even grew angry at those who tried to point out that they used QR codes and found them successful. Was the anger out of frustration at not knowing how QR codes worked?

Poor Marketing is Not a Laughing Matter

[pullquote]One designer answered, “Why bother? LOL!”[/pullquote]

What was so funny? In actuality, that designer was missing a huge marketing opportunity for her employer. The company manufactured a liquid vitamin and health supplement as an energy drink. A QR code, placed on the container, linked to a video with information on exercise, diet, nutrition or anything that enticed consumers would only serve to strengthen the brand and engage consumers.

Certainly a QR code that linked to a coupon for a free sample would help sell the new product. Are engaged customers and increased sales laughable?

One designer posted,
[pullquote]“Never. The reason QR codes are successful in Japan/China is that cell phones come equipped to handle them and it’s rooted in default software. In the US you have to find an app to do it, download it, wait, open the app, scan, wait for content to load . . . people don’t have that kind of patience.”[/pullquote]

QR code scanners, along with NFC capabilities have been bundled into new smartphones for the past couple of years. It is true that QR codes are popular in Asia, so that’s a negative in using them for marketing? How can a billion users be wrong? Asian marketers have discovered the power QR codes have to consumers, as have European countries. The key is the right call to action will encourage people to use them.

This designer, who has worked for over two years on a special book project is missing a huge opportunity to make her project successful. The book is a collection of photos of subjects telling their specific stories and while it will include a large amount of text, reading over 300 words has been proven to be more of a hinderance. If each subjects page contained a QR code, linked to a video of the subject talking about their life, experience and other images, it would only enhance the immersive experience of the reader.

One designer, who is well-known for his extremely successful career on an international level responded:

[pullquote]“I use them regularly. In real estate, travel, all over the place. How many of you use Chinese? Just because you don’t know the language doesn’t mean it’s useless.”[/pullquote]

QR Codes Use is on the Rise!

Naturally, there were also a good number of designers who have used QR codes for clients and/or knew that they were being used successfully.

[pullquote]“I used it in the parking lot at the airport. Scanning sent a text to my phone of which section I was parked in. I thought that was pretty cool.”[/pullquote]

[pullquote]“I do love them on the hiking trails.”[/pullquote]

Why So Angry about QR Codes?

There were a lot of designers who said QR codes are dead, or just never lived. Most didn’t know a thing about them and never scanned one. It seems counterproductive for professionals in a field that would use QR codes for print-to-digital linking to not be aware of the possibilities QR codes present.

But the person who posted the original question was obviously angry he received so many supportive answers. Perhaps he was embarrassed that he was made to look “behind the times”?

[pullquote]“We get it – you like them. Why the unrelenting cheerleading for QR codes?”[/pullquote]

Another designer posted,
[pullquote]“Who looks at websites on their smartphones?”[/pullquote]

The answer is, “everybody!”

[pullquote]“I do have a ‘contact’ QR on my biz card that auto-adds all my info to your address book. One time I scanned a QR on the side of an automotive product for an instructional video. I also have scanned the QR on a parking meter to pay.”[/pullquote]

[pullquote]“I scanned one I found in a teeny tiny door that was on a street in New York. Guerilla style marketing. It led me to a site for a crazy walk-through theatre experience.”[/pullquote]

[pullquote]“Actually, last night at Glendale Glitters almost every vendor had a QR code. I felt like I was in some sort of a time warp. Young people were scanning them like crazy.”[/pullquote]

[pullquote]“I scanned the back of Heinz Ketchup bottle at a restaurant for their Table Trivia Game.”[/pullquote]

[pullquote]“I was in a store about a month ago. They had a point-of-purchase display with the QR code to get more info on a gas fireplace insert. I scanned it and it directed me to an impressive mobile page of info and graphics. Sure beat trying to ask a store clerk if it was a good insert.”[/pullquote]

[pullquote]“Just had to use one for an early check in at Southwest Airlines. How quickly things change!”[/pullquote]

Turn QR Code Knowledge Into a Design Strength

One of the more experienced designers added her professional take on the subject of QR codes:

[pullquote]“A client requested QR codes on all her executive staff’s business cards. And wants one on all her marketing collateral (from brochures to booths). She loves being able to scan someone’s contact info and it go directly to her address book. Oh and mobile boarding passes – Hello!”[/pullquote]

That brings up the best point of graphic designers knowing the capabilities of QR codes in print design and marketing – servicing the needs and success of their clients. When the client’s project is a success, it’s the designer, who often acts as the marketing consultant as well, becomes the hero. What better way to turn a first time client into a regular client?

QR Code Reading Possibilities to Inspire

[list_item icon=”fa-caret-right”]Great Uses for QR Codes You Probably Didn’t Consider[/list_item]
[list_item icon=”fa-caret-right”]Other Great Uses for QR Codes You Probably Didn’t Consider[/list_item]
[list_item icon=”fa-caret-right”]MORE QR Code Uses You Should Consider[/list_item]
[list_item icon=”fa-caret-right”]13 Great Reasons Why Packaging Needs QR Codes[/list_item]
[list_item icon=”fa-caret-right”]QR Code Failures… and Why[/list_item]

Top image ©GL Stock Images

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