Alyssa Schmidt, Digital Content Specialist
Jump to an interview with Bedford’s QR code specialist, Andrew Rogers.
A Quick-Response (QR) code is a two-dimensional square barcode that when scanned by a user’s smartphone or tablet, is a quick and easy way to lead your customers to a specific webpage.
As a packaging and hangtag manufacturer, we’ve witnessed the use of these camera-based codes growing rapidly for product branding and marketing. Printing a QR code on your product label or tag allows you to invoke curiosity, maximize use of limited retail space, and engage with customers on the retail shelf and in their homes.
To help you get the most out of your code, we’ve compiled a few QR code best practices:
Understand printing requirements
QR code technology has rapidly advanced and is generally more accurate/forgiving than barcodes. However, it is still important that you familiarize yourself with your packaging manufacturers’ design and printing guidelines to avoid scanning issues.
Although there are responsive QR codes that use more creative design techniques, below are our basic recommendations to ensure a clean print/read of your QR code.
- Print code on a white/light color background for appropriate contrast.
- QR codes widely vary in size (the more complex the code, the larger it should be sized). Consult with Bedford about appropriate sizing if necessary.
- Keep QR codes away from edges or folds.
- Save and submit your artwork in high-resolution quality (this is the most common mistake we see).
For more detailed QR code design tips, visit our ElastiTag design guide.
Not sure where to start? Send us the link of what you’d like displayed when scanned, and Bedford’s prepress team can make your QR code for you.
Scan for accuracy
If the thought of unreadable QR codes on your tags keeps you up at night, read on.
We highly recommend you test for accuracy. Testing your QR code is quick and you likely have all the equipment you need right in your pocket. The best way to test your QR code for accuracy is to open the camera on your smartphone. Ask a coworker or friend to do the same on theirs, enabling you to test both Apple iPhone and Android devices.
Ask your printer if they have additional accuracy checks. For instance, Bedford checks for accuracy at both the prepress and production levels after receiving your high-resolution image.
Our prepress team will print your artwork on our laser printer and scan the QR code with multiple devices. After it’s cleared for production, the operator intermittently scans codes as they’re printed on the production line for further accuracy checks.
If there’s an issue, our prepress team will help recreate your QR code or provide advice on what changes are necessary for a clean print.
Develop a QR code destination strategy
The beauty of a QR code is that you can easily link to any live webpage. However, you should be strategic in deciding which webpage is the ultimate winner.
Once you’ve made the decision to devote “prime” real estate to a QR code, it’s best that your marketing team discusses what the desired outcome is.
• Web traffic?
• New customers?
• Video views?
Once your team has identified your goal, set up your QR code to lead visitors directly to the content that aligns with your goal.
Add a call to action near the QR code so consumers:
1) Know that you’re asking them to scan the code.
2) Have an expectation of what will happen if they scan.
Need each tag to lead to a different destination? Talk to a Bedford Account Rep about variable printing options.
QR Code Q&A with Andrew Rogers, Electronic Prepress Specialist
Q: What is your experience with QR Codes?
A: I create QR codes for customers needing assistance creating their custom code. I also test codes our customers submit for accuracy before printing. I help recreate their code when necessary.
Q: What Bedford products support QR codes?
A: ElastiTag, Bib Ties, and TagTies. We don’t print QR Codes on ties, as the wire could interfere with scan accuracy.
Q: Have you seen an uptick in QR code use?
A: Definitely – the last couple years especially I have seen substantially more use of QR codes. I’d be willing to bet anyone in our prepress team sees them on a weekly basis.
Q: What kind of content are customers linking their QR code to?
A: Lately, I’ve seen a lot of brands using it to point customers to recipes.
Q: What is the most common mistake you see with customer-submitted QR codes?
A: They submit a low-resolution image. The entire artwork file needs to be high-resolution, ideally a PDF or Adobe Illustrator file.
Q: How do you test the accuracy of a QR code?
A: We encourage customers to use their own smartphone device to test accuracy before submitting artwork to us. Once we receive it, we will print their tag on our printer and test on multiple smartphones. Our manufacturing team also has accuracy test procedures in place along the production line.