Spring 2011 | Feature Article

QR code pictured on iPhone

QR Codes Add New Dimension to Marketing Promotions

Think of QR (Quick Response) codes as barcodes on steroids. Part of the barcode family, QR codes can handle much more data than the standard barcode, enabling them to handle more complex tasks such as opening a web page, downloading a coupon or contact information, developing an email or text message, or pulling up a video. In part, this is because QR codes are considered two-dimensional, while basic barcodes are one-dimensional.

Many modern smartphones can scan QR codes with the download of a free reader app, making them a very useful marketing and promotional tool to attract people on the go. While complex in capabilities, QR codes are simple to open. With a smartphone such as an iPhone, BlackBerry or Droid, simply take a photo of the code with a bar code reader (such as ScanLife.com — easy, free and fast to download), and get automatically directed to a website or other contact point. Even those without smartphones can do it. Simply take/save a JPG of the code, then upload into a program such as the Zxing Decoder Online.

QR codes have been around since Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave created them in 1994. At first, they were used for tracking parts related to vehicle manufacturing. Commonplace in Japan, QR codes are just now taking off in the US.

How Companies Can Use QR Codes in Promotions

QR codes can supplement label information and add product value, creating innovative marketing and promotional campaigns.

For firms of any size seeking marketing innovations, the QR code can be a perfect fit. Place one next to products on a website containing all product details, contact information, and a link to relevant information. Or add one to a business card, so that anyone can scan it into their cell phone.

Or, add them to packaging, labels, print ads, flyers, posters, and invitations, — the list is limited only by the imagination. Information can include details about contacts, products, offers, events, and competitions; or contain a coupon, or link to a social media profile.

Examples of Creative QR Coding Labels & More

Lightning Labels has printed QR code stickers for The Data Liberation Front, a Google engineering team wanting to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products. Their rationale is that anyone should be able to export any data contained in a product.

Anyone with a smartphone camera and barcode scanning application installed could scan the code, to be directed to the Data Liberation Front’s home page on their phone’s mobile browser.

When shopping for wine in a liquor store, QR codes can make it possible to read a review about the wine on a smartphone. A Portuguese winery called Cortes de Cima has incorporated a QR code on their wine label. When scanned, the code takes the viewer to a website where people can see reviews and ratings of their wine.

Another winery, Tagus Creek, has deployed QR codes on wine labels to direct consumers to website-based videos about wine tastings.

QR codes also are enabling purchases on-the-go, maximizing convenience and minimizing the need to give credit cards to strangers. A mobile merchant displays a QR code for a customer on a screen. The customer scans it, in turn opening a private payment window to complete and pay for a transaction without handing over a credit card.

Increasingly, airlines are offering QR-code enabled mobile boarding passes. Point, click and voila, you are taken either to a link containing your boarding pass or the pass is emailed to you. Either way, you’ll be able to display it on your mobile browser. In tandem with this advancement, more and more airports are equipping personnel with special mobile-phone scanners that can “collect” the boarding pass directly from the phone.

Or, what about event badges containing important contact information that enables people to get acquainted with each other with an easy phone scan?

Then, there’s the free gift offer accessible via ad or product QR codes. Scan and win.

Also fair game are magazine ads, billboards, and T-shirts — the list goes on and on.

Another important element is the search engine factor. When QR codes are added to a website, the search engines see that pages are being changed and updated, helping SEO efforts. Direct mail aficionados also are getting into the QR code business. Direct mail packs increasingly carry the codes, which recipients can scan to see promotions, discounts and the like.

Develop Your Own QR Code or Have LL Do It For

To explore and test out simple QR codes, go to a free generation site such as Zxing Project or Kaywa.com. Or, there’s Open Source code available if you have a developer.

Once the code is generated, save it as a JPG and post it wherever you want your audience to see it.

Lightning Labels now offers an in-house QR code creation service that can complement the QR code marketing campaign you create on your own or with the assistance of a marketing agency. Among criteria to consider when crafting your campaign include: Who your audience is, what you want them to do, how complicated the challenge is (e.g., a simple contact card versus a link to a website video), and what smartphone browser considerations need to be addressed.

We’ve all experienced the frustration of pulling up a web image that doesn’t display correctly because it hasn’t been optimized for a particular browser. If QR code enthusiasts are frustrated in their attempts to scan the code because of mobile browser issues, you could lose them permanently. This issue merits being addressed at the phone manufacturer, operating system and application levels. For example, web pages that come up fine on a BlackBerry may prove unsuitable for a Droid phone.

Related Articles
Anatomy of a QR Code
Exploring QR Codes

Material Descriptions

Materials

BIOSTONE

One of our eco-friendly options that is actually made of stone—no trees are used. This material should not laminated.

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

Artwork Specifications

Laminates

High Gloss

High gloss is our most popular laminate. It is the least expensive option and provides protection for the label and a high gloss shiny finish.

Matte

The Matte Laminate provides your label with a dull, non-glossy finish. Some customers consider this achieves a more "natural" look.

Thermal Transfer

This is a gloss laminate that is designed to work with most over-printing thermal transfer printers. We do recommend you get samples first to test through your own printer before placing an order with this laminate.

UV Outdoor Gloss

As the name implies this is best used for labels that will be used outdoors. It has a high gloss finish with excellent UV resistance. It is best paired with our vinyl material for the most durable outdoor label.