Dead or Alive – What’s the Deal with QR Codes?

The argument about whether the QR code is dying or coming back to life is at times reminiscent of a zombie apocalypse. The popularity of the QR code certainly has had its ups and downs, but the Covid-19 pandemic brought renewed attention to it.

What is a QR code?

The QR (Quick Response) code system was invented in 1994 by Masahiro Hara from Japan and used to track parts in vehicle manufacturing. QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that can store data using patterns of black dots and white spaces arranged in a square grid. The data can range from simple text to phone numbers, email addresses, web pages, and more.

How Do I Scan QR Codes?

One of the reasons why QR codes didn’t catch on as quickly as expected was that at the time, most smartphones required a third-party app to read them. Nowadays, most smartphones have native QR code readers, meaning that all you have to do is point your camera and be transported to the designated destination, whether that’s a restaurant menu, product information, discount, or an app to download.

What are some creative examples of QR codes usage?

We hoped you’d ask! The creativity for QR code use has no boundaries, as you can see in some of the examples below. 

  • Museums
    • It’s not uncommon to find QR codes in the museums next to artwork, allowing for much more in-depth information than a plaque ever could. Sukiennice Museum in Krakow, Poland, took it a step further. They developed a mobile app that enabled patrons to interact with the characters in paintings in augmented reality. The visitors simply scan the QR code next to the painting, enabling the characters to come to life on their phones. 
  • Virtual Supermarket
    • In 2011, a South Korean supermarket company Homeplus transformed subway stations into virtual supermarkets. They attached sheets with product photos and QR codes to the walls, making it look like the supermarket shelves. When passengers scanned the QR code, the corresponding product was added to their online cart. Then the customer would schedule a time for home delivery, pay, and go on their merry way. If they placed the order on their way to work in the morning, it would be delivered to their doorstep by the time they got back home.
  • Air Advertising
    • In April of 2021, hundreds of drones flew over Shanghai to celebrate the anniversary of the Japanese Princess Connect! Re:Dive video game release in China. The drones formed a giant illuminated QR code that led people to the game’s website. 
  • Funerary Use
    • Perhaps still unconventional, but remembering our loved ones and sharing memories with others gets easier with QR codes. They can be placed into stone memorials, on a bench, or next to a tree, linking the code directly to a personalized memorial web page with text, photos, and videos. 

Where Else Can I Use QR Codes?

Whether you own a small business, run a nonprofit, or grow a personal brand, a QR code system is helpful for marketing, fundraising, and communication tool. 

    • Put a QR code on a flyer or direct mail and connect the customers to your website, online appointment scheduler, or a text conversation with your business. 
    • Use a QR code to make it easier for your customers to leave a review, and grow your online presence.
    • Give out swag or thank you cards with a QR code to make it easier for your customers to get back in touch. 
    • Create a QR code for a contactless menu and ordering.
    • Use a QR code at an event for guests to pull up the schedule, speakers’ bios, and any other information that you’d otherwise put in a handout. 
    • Share a QR code for a post-event survey to get people’s feedback.
    • Let people connect with you by directing them to your social media accounts with a quick scan. 
    • Provide an easy way for your customers to receive more information about installation or care instructions for your products – you guessed it! – with a QR code.
    • Link your QR code to your fundraising page and watch the donations roll in. 

How Do I Create A QR Code?

You can find several QR code generators online, both as free and paid versions. Some of them allow you to customize your QR code with your logo or your brand’s colors. Dynamic QR codes allow you to edit the landing pages and track specific user data, which can help inform your business and marketing strategy.

Where Should I Place QR Codes?

Depending on your industry, there are several options for you, including business cards, customer service desks, print media, posters, stickers, store windows, product packaging, PowerPoint presentations, or even temporary tattoos! Just make sure that your QR code can be seen, scanned by a smartphone, and if it links to a URL, then the Internet is required to open the link. And as a word of warning – only scan QR codes from known and trusted sources to avoid potential malware problems.

Need help figuring out the best use of QR codes for your business? Just scan this QR code and give us a call (805.235.8463)!


Keywords: QR Code, marketing, digital marketing

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