QR codes are everywhere you look. Even Heinz Ketchup bottles have been accessorized with one. However, the story stays the same with these Pac-man looking boxes. They often lead to landing pages that do little to bring the brand story to life. QR codes continually push the same message, and only to smartphone users. Very few brands use them to actually take their story to the next level. However, there is hope.
Some companies are incorporating logos into QR codes. This not only helps raise brand awareness, it also adds a little flare and color to a not-so-appealing box. Companies such as Shell and Best Buy have taken advantage of this technology. But, some worry that decorating codes this way won’t work. Testing is the only way to make sure that the logo isn’t covering too much of the actual QR code. The main thing is to make sure the three large corner boxes aren’t covered. If these can’t be scanned, all is lost.
Beyond incorporating logos, SpyderLynk recently evolved the QR code into the more aesthetically appealing SnapTag. With SnapTags, the company’s logo stands front and center and is enclosed by an encoded ring. Each ring is personalized and helps consumers interact with the brand through promotions, discounts, or company news. SnapTags allow a brand to come to life. They can be any size and placed just about anywhere. SnapTags are also much more flexible when it comes to re-coding. You can change where the QR code sends someone without redoing the code, which then eliminates the cost of reprinting.
When I started looking into SnapTags, I found an article on how Glamour used one on its September 2011 cover. Low and behold, I just so happened to have that issue. Unlike the QR Code, you can access the contents of the SnapTag by using a scanner app OR by taking a picture and texting it. This opens up the possibility for consumers without smartphones to check out different companies. On the Glamour cover, there’s a 5-digit number to text the SnapTag to. After a quick snap and send, I received a text message that said “Watch Glamour’s exclusive Rihanna video!” with a link to the video. Viola! As simple as that. And if Glamour wants to use this same SnapTag for a different month’s cover, it can leave the same ring and logo but re-code it to lead to a different link.
So, between plain QR codes, QR codes with logos, and SnapTags, what’s inhibiting these tools from taking off and bringing brands to life? One issue could be that people just don’t know what they are or what opportunities they hold. They are also relatively time-consuming. For some smartphone users, it’s faster to “Google” the brand they’re looking at rather than trying to figure out that scanner-app-thingy on their iPhone.
It may be that QR codes have been incorporated into traditional media outlets, but in the wrong ways. There was a billboard by our office that had one and every day I drove by thinking “how the heck am I supposed to drive AND scan that?” It’s not about placing them on everything, but about using them where they need to be and where they are accessible.
Samuel Adams did just that over this past holiday season. Instead of using a “standard” placement, such as their bottle or box, they took it to the next level and incorporated their QR code on a bar coaster. But not just any bar coaster. This Samuel Adams coaster had four panels that when folded, showed a different image each time. One panel had the QR code on it that led fans to a mobile page where they could sign up for a coupon towards a Sam Adams glass. Not only was Samuel Adams engaging consumers at their point of purchase, they took an ordinary object and turned it into an interactive marketing tool. Genius!
It’s going to take more time for QR codes to catch on across a broader audience, but we’re moving in the right direction. Given the fast pace of technology, something will definitely come along to compete. QR codes will need to be one step ahead of the game to stay afloat.
In addition to updates to maintain relevance and capture interest, what’s the biggest obstacle that needs to be conquered? Placing them for a purpose, not just “because,” to better assist the brand. The more strategically placed they are, the more scans a code will receive, and the more life the brand will have.