Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Using QR Code For Your Business

3rd in the on-going series “QR Codes”

In my first blog, “What’s QR Code and Is It Right For Your Business?” and the follow up blog, “There’s an App For That – QR Readers for Your Smartphone,” I introduced you to what QR codes are and how to use your smartphone to read them.

In this blog I’ll discuss how you can use them a business owner.

QR Codes (Quick Response) are two dimensional bar codes. The technology was created in 1994 by Denso-Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota and was designed to track auto parts in the highly complex automobile assembly process.

At that time, smartphones as we know them today didn’t exist, so using this technology to communicate about products and services to the general public wasn’t part of its intent.

Now, with a smartphone in just about everyone’s hand, QR code technology is rapidly being adopted to “share information in a condensed yet easily expandable format.

Keep that concept in mind because it’s at the root of how QR codes are being used by businesses, politicians, musicians, and just about anyone else with something to say, sell, or give away.

A QR code is a natural link between the web and print. QR codes are designed so people use their smartphones to “read,” capture the image of the QR code that’s printed on something, a business card, a billboard, a package, a food wrapper, and convert that image to a link that contains an expanded piece of information about the product or person. That information is available via the Internet to the smartphone.

A simple example: because a business card is a piece of cardboard that can contain just so much information on its limited size, with a QR code printed on it, someone can read the code with their smartphone and be immediately linked to a web page which contains oh so much more information, including hyperlinks to other pages, et cetera, et cetera.

In Japan and S. Korea, QR codes are a way of life, but it’s taking longer for the technology to be adopted in the US and other countries.

Early USA usage statistics indicate the people prefer to use QR codes for things like discount coupons and recipes on food packages. They want to see the benefit to them for using a QR code. Hopefully, this will change to increased usage once a deeper understanding of the expanded informational benefits are more clearly understood. Ideally, it won’t take too much longer for it to catch on and be a new way for you to communicate more efficiently about your business.

Sunbrella, maker of fabrics for use outdoors and in, is incorporating QR codes in their print ads, enabling them to give readers interested in their products more information than the limited space of the ad contains. Additionally, Gene Wicker, Jr., Sunbrella’s Marketing Manager says, “For us, QR codes offer another method to get direct feedback on the effectiveness of an ad campaign.  If someone scans one of our codes, we can identity which ad and which magazine the scan came from.  We can’t identify the individual – anonymity is still present – but we can count the number of scans.” Clearly, this is useful information in designing their future advertising campaigns.

Linda Rosso Studio's QR Code
Artist Linda Rosso, who has an extensive background in marketing, says, “I am putting QR code stickers on the back of every one of my paintings and prints that I exhibit and sell. This code directs viewers to my studio’s website where they can learn more about me as an artist, as well as get information about my other paintings.”

Besides these examples, here’s a very small sampling of how QR codes are being, or could be used. I’m sure that in your own creative way, you’ll figure out how to use this amazing technology for yourself.

·    Real estate - for sale, rent, and lease signage
·    Billboards – product information, movie schedules, store locations, upcoming events, promotions
·    Marketing materials – direct readers to product how-to videos, product manuals, client endorsements, related products for cross-selling
·    Signage in museums – make more information available about the work of art and its artist
·    Food products and packaged goods in the grocery store – provide information about the grower, the rancher, etc., give nutritional information, provide recipes and list other ingredients needed
·    Conference signage – provide more detailed information about speakers and locations
·    Print ads – take viewer to company web page, video, etc.
·    Yellow pages advertising – inexpensively expand on small ads
·    Shopping after a store is closed – scan the bar code shown in the store’s window to order on-line from them

In addition to the statistics about QR users and usage given in my earlier post, here’s some recently released and very interesting information about who’s using QR codes in Canada:

NYC's Times Square QR Code campaign

Here are links to some interesting news articles about how QR codes are being used in the US:

Beryn Hammil Designs' QR Code

Oh, and here’s my own interior design firm’s QR code. Scan it with your smartphone's QR reader app and see where it takes you.

This information is for guideline purposes, is not an endorsement of a product or vendor, and implies no guarantee of results.

Photos and images courtesy of Mashable,, Sunbrella, Linda Rosso

Copyright © The B. Hammil Company, 2011


  1. Design Tech Tonics readers who find my site and leave a comment mentioning this QR code blog will be entered to win a painting in my next giveaway! Thanks for the mention, Beryn.

  2. Thanks for this. I knew a bit, but having all this info in one place is terrific.


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