When to use QR codes in print

When to use QR codes in print

Over the past few years we have seen a lot of examples of Quick Response (QR) codes being used well and not so well in marketing. From billboards, magazines and newspapers to business cards and even cupcakes (I know!!), QR codes continue to provide a way for businesses to connect and engage with customers.

QR codes are a two dimensional scanning barcode system that was first introduced by Denso Wave in 1994. Initially created to track Toyota vehicles during the manufacturing process, the QR codes have evolved in recent years into a new marketing technique thanks to in large part the growth of smartphones. Apple and Android devices in particular are able to scan a QR barcode to provide the user with information relating to the code or the message associated with it.

QR Code in Brochure - Digital Printing (Source: Visualead.com)

QR codes have led quite a mixed existence in recent times in the marketing world. They were seen as the next big craze following their introduction to marketing plans across the world with many experts predicting a similar impact to the Twitter hashtag. Unfortunately the potential of QR codes has yet to really be fulfilled and with competition from new technologies like Blippar, Snap Tag and Touchcode the big question is what does the future hold for the QR code?

We have seen our fair share of QR codes at Digital Printing with many flyers, brochures and banners incorporating them in recent years. Despite these new technologies QR codes are still very much recognised by consumers and can still play a role in your printed marketing needs if used right.

If you are considering using QR codes in your printed marketing material in the coming months then be sure to use it in the right way and not just include it for the sake of it.

Here are some tips for getting the most from QR codes:


First and foremost your QR code should be clear and easy to read. It should be easy for the user to see and also big enough for a smartphone to scan. There is no point in going to a lot of effort of creating web pages or adding a QR code to a flyer if it can’t be seen or scanned by your customer.

Must have a purpose:

One of the big drawbacks of QR codes is the need for a customer to physically do something. Customers need to get their phone out to scan the code before getting the information you want to share with them. This may not be information they want so handling customer expectations can be a challenge.

To help with this, let the user know why they should scan the code and what they will get when they do. Discounts and offers can work well here so adding a message like “Scan here to save 15%” can provide a good call to action.

London 2012 - QR Code - Digital Printing (Source: Scanlife.com)

Think of your message:

QR codes can be used with a number of file formats included PNG, HTML and general text files. You can also use them to insert a contact number or email address. Think of the message you are trying to get across to your customer and how QR codes will help. Customers will have certain expectations when scanning a QR code so make sure they get something unique. This can be a custom landing page or branded image, voucher or message that ties in with your campaign.

Think mobile:

Remember that anyone scanning the QR code will be doing so with a mobile device. If you are directing them to your website or a custom built landing page, be sure that this is a mobile responsive page that will provide information in an easy manner. The same rule applies to any images or messages you are sharing via your QR code. Make sure they can all be easily seen on a mobile device.


QR codes work best in printed media and can work really well with any printed adverts, leaflets or brochures you are producing. Use them within brochures to provide more information on a product or service or with a flyer to drive customers to a product landing page to try and drive online sales.

QR codes weren’t designed for all platforms though and it is highly recommended you avoid using them on computer screens and billboards as they can be hard to scan and may waste valuable space.

Panasonic Leaflet - QR Code - Digital Printing (Source: Scanlife.com)


Finally, if you are planning on using QR codes with your printed material, be sure to test them thoroughly before sending to a printer. It is important to make sure the QR code is easily scanned and all information within it is easy to read and understand.

When used properly QR codes can really add something to a leaflet or brochure and as we previously seen they can also be used effectively in business cards. The key is to make sure you are using a QR code to add something to your message and not to simply fill a space or to try something different.

You can create a QR code using a QR code generator app or website.  Just search QR code generator on Google and create the code you want.  You can also get creative with a visual QR code.  Simply input the details you want to share with your customers (url, custom webpage, social media profile or general message) and save your code as a jpeg ready to use with your brochure.  One of our favourite QR code generator sites is visualeads.com.

You can now connect with Digital Printing on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Connect with us today and share your experiences of using and scanning QR codes. Do you think they are useful or do you try to avoid them?


Our Products

2 Responses to “When to use QR codes in print”

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>