QR Codes – A Hot Trend for Cross Platform Marketing to Grow Your Brand

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With thanks to the O2 Ideas Room for blog posts…

A QR Code (short for Quick Response) is a specific matrix barcode, storing information in both the vertical and horizontal directions, readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and smart phones / camera phones.

QR Codes were originally developed in 1994 and used in the vehicle manufacturing industry for tracking parts etc, but are now being used very successfully in integrated marketing campaigns across the globe. The technology has seen a huge uptake in Japan and South Korea.

A smart phone user can now scan one of these QR Codes in magazines, newspapers, on transport and billboards, business cards, products, packaging, on a PC, TV or cinema screen and it can take the user to a URL (webpage), video, send them a text message, save a vCard or event to the users contact book or calendar and even compose an email. QR Codes effectively create a direct link between the physical world and online arena.

While the adoption of QR Codes in some markets has been slower to take off, the technology is gaining some serious traction in the smartphone market. Ireland has some of the highest smart phone penetration rates in Europe with an estimated 1.3 million users.

Indeed many Android, Nokia, and Blackberry phones come with QR Code readers pre-installed and iphone has a large selection of free downloadable QR Code reader apps available in iTunes. QR reader software is now available for most mobile platforms.

For any savvy business owners, brand custodians and marketeers, QR Codes are of particular interest as they give them the “ability to measure response rates with a high degree of precision” allowing for easier ROI (return on investment) calculation, thus helping assess effective spend in marketing budgets.

Examples of QR Codes Used to Promote & Grow Your Brand:

1. Food & Drink Producers:

QR Codes on packaging, leaflets, posters, vehicle livery, advertising and indoor displays can be used to launch an event or provide information relating to online promotions, Facebook competitions, information about where food/drink/beverages have been grown and produced, consumption suggestions together with recipes and serving suggestions on your brand’s web site.

2. Professional Services:

Add QR Codes to your business cards, stationery, newsletters, white papers, videos and presentations etc. to provide customers with a direct link to additional information about your business and new services, launch a conference or announce a seminar, identify calendar fixtures (scan the code and save the date, time and place of an event), LinkedIn page and more in-depth news updates.

3. Pharmaceutical Industry:

Use QR Codes to drive your target audience (professionals or consumers) towards accessing more in-depth information specifically about health, therapies, OTC brands, products, usage, white papers, research and development, innovation, responsibility, mission, investors, media releases, seminars, conferences, careers etc.

4. Retailers:

Retailers can use QR Codes printed in window displays or on brand promotion collateral with special offers delivered to the consumers smart phone when scanned, together with appliance/product instructions, new product launches, competitions, Facebook incentives etc. They can also use QR Codes on clothing tags, books, electronic goods and toys. QR Codes can also be used on staff uniforms, name tags and signage.

5. Publishers:

Whether you are producing books, magazines, newspapers or newsletters you can add interactive elements online to support and enhance your hard copy content making your brand material more valuable and a front of mind brand, as a “go-to-resource” for your consumers e.g. more in-depth article analysis, video content and interviews, interactive entertainment guide, sports clips/profiles, interactive exhibition reviews etc.

6. Tourism & Wayfinding Systems:

Restaurateurs, hotels, guest houses, cities, countries (Tourism Ireland) you can use QR Codes on posters, advertising to promote and bring your audience directly to your destination and give them an interactive “feel or experience” using video etc., for what you have to offer, together with incentives such as discount or promotional/ticket codes. QR Codes can also be used to interpret natural and historical points of interest in museums, walking tours and on nature trails, adding to or enhancing the user experience through the signs.

7. Estate Agents:

Put a QR Code beside each property listed, or on “For Sale” signs, and interested customers can scan the relevant code supplying them with information such as GPS coordinates, a Google Map with directions, house plans, property features, launch a video or photo tour of the property etc.

8. Politicians & Celebrities:

Use QR Codes in appropriate locations or in relevant media so the target audience can scan and see the VIP speak about their policies or promote an upcoming event, movie or participate in an interview etc.

Some recent examples of effective use of QR Codes include the following.

In January 2011, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum launched a line of branded museum t-shirts and apparel which featured museum brand logos and designs on the fronts and a QR Code screened on the right back shoulder, which directed to the museum’s web site or artist interviews.

The U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea became the first Army organisation to use QR Codes for official media campaigns in January this year.

The Japanese are using QR Codes in cemeteries on grave stones as a way to remember and share more information about their loved ones and unite mourners !

The Lviv Tourism Movement (Ukraine) have placed QR Codes on more than 80 tourism objects helping individual tourists easily access information about the city.

Sun-Maid, that iconic centennial brand, has used QR Codes on its canister and six-pack raisin packaging in a bid to increase brand loyalty/awareness and give it the competitive edge.

In a promotional tie with the Dreamworks animated movie “Kung Fu Panda 2″, debuting later this month, they are using QR Codes to take consumers to a mobile website where they can enter a contest to potentially win the grand prize, a trip for four to Zoo Atlanta. Top winners will get VIP treatment at the Zoos Giant Panda centre and the company will also give out “Kung Fu Panda 2″ toys to 100 other sweepstakes winners. Sun-Maid raisins are a favourite brand for kids, so the “Kung Fu Panda 2″ cross-promotion is a natural tie-in.

As a brand awareness, marketing and business growth tool QR Codes offer almost limitless innovation and opportunities, with definitive measurability. Be it a teaser, guerrilla marketing campaign, event management or information resource, the list is endless !

Some examples of QR Code readers for your smart phones include:

iphone: Qrafter, i-nigma QR Code Reader

Blackberry: QR Code Scanner, ScanLife 2D Code Reader, ATT Code Scanner

Android: Barcode Scanner


Lorraine works with her clients to make their brands the most profitable 1st choice in their target markets. A winner of numerous design awards she’s also a former winner of Business Woman of the Year, Dublin.

Ideas Room


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