Have you seen a QR code recently? Most likely if you interact with modern physical or digital brands, you have. The system was created in 1994 by Masahiro Hara from Japanese (subsidiary of Toyota) company, Denso Wave. The initial use of the barcodes was to allow high-speed scanning during manufacturing to track vehicles. Today, a laundry list of brands utilize the feature and have since expanded its functionality. 

Most likely you’ve seen them used for marketing or advertising (printed material allowing users to visit webpage) but other applications include: security, mobile payments (send or receive transactions), contact transfer (digital contact card to allow users to send contact details), education (class material and engaging activities), and inventory management (product packaging for tracking and detailed product information for consumer). Most recently with the pandemic; they have made contact tracing, vaccination and PPE kits more efficient. 

With most of the globe plugged in and owning a smartphone, the ability to scan quick response codes directly from your camera app is possible on nearly any modern device. There are some guidelines that you are going to want to follow if you want to effectively utilize QR for your own brand. Make sure that your code is easily accessible to your audience (either digitally or printed), If you do decide to go physical — ensure that printed materials are placed within areas with public Wi-Fi or a strong cellular signal, download your QR in a high-resolution format (SVG or PDF) for printed media, lead it to a mobile-optimize landing page (dedicated to the related product, event, service, etc.).

There are two types of QR codes, static and dynamic. 

A static quick response code has densely encoded target data stored directly into the generated code. Encoding is permanent and the data stored can never be edited. With this option it is not possible to track scanning activity. It can store the following types of data: URLs, vCard, text, wifi network details, pre-loaded SMS, bitcoin wallet addresses, calendar events, email addresses or phone numbers.

A dynamic quick response code was created to offer more flexibility and functionality to encoded URLs. The target data is not stored directly in this QR code and instead generates a short URL to redirect users to the target web page. You can activate or deactivate the code at any time as well as track the scanning activity and analytics. Although the target data stored with this option can only be a URL, you can edit the target URL at any time without the need to re-generate the code. 

When comparing QR codes to traditional barcodes, it has a handful of advantages over the classic option. QR codes are damage resistant and can endure up to 30% damage or dirt coverage while remaining scannable. QR codes are scannable from every angle and have three focal areas of coverage to increase device visibility. QR codes can encode numeric, alphanumeric, binary and kanji characters.

As a fun test, I generated a QR link for this particular article — enjoy!

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