Don’t Embarrass Your Business with a QR Code

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"QR Codes need a purpose. What purpose is yours serving? Or is it just embarrassing your brand?" - Above Promotions Company

You’ve seen the codes everywhere now.  As the cell phone user becomes more and more savvier, the number of people clueless as to what those squiggly lines in a cute box appears to be shrinking.  With more knowledge and better mobile reader applications for the QR (Quick Response) Code, advertisers are certainly seeing some movement on mobile sites.  Viewership is increased and consumers are taking advantage of savings offered through the codes.  However, for the company who is ineffectively using the codes, it’s really more of an embarrassment.   

Obviously someone perusing their Cosmopolitan or Runners World magazine, would take the time to snap a picture with their QR reader if they are at home on the couch while watching 60 minutes.  But for the passerby, or curious person looking at a code in an awkward place, really is a foolish step for a brand.

Don’t embarrass your brand by placing a code in the following places.

1. Billboards.  Odds are the person driving 65 mph on the interstate isn’t going to slow down, pull off the side of the road or turn around to see what the message an accident attorney has listed with their QR Code.  (Yes, folks.  There was an actual billboard by an accident attorney along a major interstate.  Makes you wonder if there was another motive in the foolishness.) 

2. Movie trailers.  How long does it take a user to open up their reader app, line it up and scan an image that is not close?  No matter the time, it’s definitely longer than the portion of the trailer it is appearing on.  

3. Public bus bench on a major road.  Change the speed limit and you have the same concept except an auto accessories store for this one.

4. Subway or airplane magazine ads.  Not everyone is able to get a signal on a subway and on flights, cell phones are not permitted. 

5. Posters in bad places.  Placed on poles wrapped around an outdoor pole or on automatic doors for a business just makes no sense.  The scanner needs the code to remain flat to read the full image.  Avoid placing them there.

6. Company vehicles.  Do you really want someone paying more attention trying to scan the code on the back of your vehicle, than paying attention to the distance behind the back of it?

7. On a roof top.  How many people are really searching Google Earth for QR codes for a business?  Crafty?  Yes.  Practical?  No.

8. Email Signature.  A link to a website in a signature is easily read by email programs that are text only.  The user would have to switch to a html view or give permission to oneself to download a QR image.  Keep it simple.  Just insert the web address.

9. Tombstones.  Well we didn’t personally see this one, but it made for an interesting story last summer on ABC.  Is someone walking around curiously wanting to learn about the dead?

10. Flags.  Is a flag ever really fully extended for longer than a second?

Using one of these areas, could not only frustrate the user, but it creates a bad image for the brand.  It shows the end-user little thought was placed on where the code would be used and more thought was used on how “cool” the company could look. 

Of course it is important to have a legitimate marketing purpose for the code, be able to analyze the user data and to ensure the content on the mobile page it points to can work on all types of cell phones, but this post is just focused on keeping you from embarrassing your business. 

A misplaced QR Code distracts the viewer from the purpose of the message or wastes valuable space which could have been used to put something else to help define your brand.

If you’re an offender of the list, it’s not too late to turn your code around and impress consumers instead.

(Enjoy this tumblr site .  It is full of quirky or embarrassing places businesses have placed a code.)

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Embarrass Your Business with a QR Code

  1. So funny, I’ve seen them on those little signs on the side of the road & wondered, why would they put it there? I am also starting to see them on business cards, why? I don’t know when its something people are more than likely going to keep & you can just spell out your website. I think a lot of people are just fascinated by being able to create them so easily that they want to put them on everything. I will admit to designing a T-Shirt that I wear to the gym but so far thats the only place I’ve put one.

  2. Agreed. On a business card, the code is not needed. A flyer to a special would make more sense.

    Are you seeing an increase in real estate agents using them to push people to property information?

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