Using QR (Quick Response) Codes as a Marketing Tool


QR codes have been around a while. They’re big in Japan and South Korea, appearing on billboards, consumer products, vending machines, magazines, newspapers, or anywhere there’s room to insert the symbols – including within the haircuts of rock stars. Think of them as bar codes for consumers, or ‘paper based hyperlinks’ – scanning one automatically triggers any number of predefined responses or code actions, such as opening an URL, sending a text message or sending vCard contact information (there are many other possible ‘actions’ across various social media platforms, maps, WiFi connections and online video).

While QR codes have been slow to take off in Australia I’ve noticed a recent shift in interest from local marketers, and more importantly the public at large; I would expect to see plenty of them popping up in offline places near you in during 2012.


Generating your own QR codes
This is simple – I use a comprehensive online code creator from Kerem Erkan, but there are many others. There are numerous actions and code customisation options to choose from when creating your own QR code; the final code can then be copied and posted online, or downloaded in various formats and placed within any offline media as you would a standard image or graphic.

The QR code example below has an embedded action to open the homepage of the NET:101 website when scanned.



Scanning a QR Code
This is commonly done with a QR reader app on a smartphone, making them a convenient way to interact with a mobile audience (the reader app I use on my iPhone is Qrafter). Some phones are now coming out with QR readers as native functionality, making the scanning process a quick & easy one.


Customising a QR Code
Marketers are taking QR codes to the next level by applying customised branding. This can be a little tricky, requiring graphic design manipulation without braking the code – here’s a good blog post on how to do this.

The code below is a customised version of the code above – it still performs the same action but presents with softer code edges and incorporates the NET:101 logo and primary brand colour, red.



A few other examples of customised QR code design: