Our first experience was a very negativve one, we used a QR Code on a advert within a trade magazine, the idea was for users to scan the codeand receive a free HMG Paints shade card, however when it came to print the publication decided to neglect the bleed of the advert and instead shrunk the image to fit the frame, meaning the QR code was reduced to a unscannable size.
From that experience we learned and made sure we knew exactly how the QR code would be printed and the size it would appear, as a result we now have 3 different size QR codes, for various media. The 3 new QR codes which bring up HMG Paints contact information, email address, website and contact numbers, that users can access direct from their smartphone, the QR codes will be used on a range of media late 2011. One important point is analysing the usage of our codes we want to better understand who, where and how they are being used.
To make our QR codes unique we have also included the HMG Paints logo within the design, this gives immediate brand recognition and a degree of trust in the content, thus meaning the user is more likely to scan the code. The next big area for HMG Paints is to utilise the QR codes on our products, we are aiming to create a QR code that will contain technical information, safety information and reorder information. With the technical and safety data this will mean the user will be able to do away with printed sheets and utilise their smart phone and enable them to access info whenever or wherever they need it.
So to answer the inital question, Will QR codes have a future? currently its unclear, if the wider public start using them then they will be a success as long as brands utilise them correctly, and closer to home within HMG Paints we will definitely be using them and hopefully our customers will adopt them into their working life.
Do's and Don'ts for using QR codes:
Do use them to provide something extra – Give users a reason to scan, give them access to something they don't usually have
Don’t use them as a replacement for your message - The easiest way to confuse consumers is by not communicating or miscommunication. There should be enough other content surrounding its usage, and a clear message, that the QR code remains a bonus. It should not be the only thing in your ad. If it is then consumers lose sight of who you are as a brand.
Your brand is not a QR code, it is much more than that.
Do use them on display signs within stores – More and more consumers use smartphones to purchase products. I see it as a missed opportunity if they are not present on store product display signs. There is notenough space on a sign to display all of the information a consumer needs to know. Any details on a display sign are just an attempt at best. A QR code is a great way to direct consumers to product reviews and more information.
Don’t use them as a cop-out for lack of creativity – This goes hand in hand with the rule to not use them as a replacement for your message. QR codes are not something you just throw in because you can’t think of anything better to use in your ad.
Do get creative with their usage – As more and more people are using QR codes it will be a bigger need to get creative and make their use and results unique
Don’t overuse them – Repetition can be a good thing, but oversaturation is not. If you use QR codes too often, or in ways that are too predictable, they could lose their effectiveness.
Do use them effectively - Be picky about what you use them for and how you use them. To be anything but picky is a disservice to you and your consumers.
Double check the final image - Always check with your printer about the final dimensions of the QR code, trust me you don't want a QR code appearing in a publication and it be unscanable.
Use it in the correct places - I have seen QR codes used on back of buses, this is not an ideal place to put one as the last thing you want to be doing is to have your brands QR code being the result of an accident.
For further reading you can see 15 great examples of QR codes here: http://mashable.com/2011/07/23/creative-qr-codes/