Custom QR Codes: How to Create Them + 9 Design Tips and Examples
Last Updated: December 2, 2019
QR Codes, since their inception, have gone through multiple transformations to cater to the needs of masses and brands.
The era of black and white QR Codes is over. QR Codes today are versatile, can be designed in several ways without losing their scannability, and yet look pleasing. QR Codes are one of the most significant methods to effectively integrate mobile marketing into existing media and marketing channels to reach expedient consumer segments. Nearly half of all smartphone users in this era are young (between the age of 25-35), which clearly hints that marketing campaigns are taking advantage of technological advancements to help reach the right target audience.
Customized QR Codes help improve brand recall, garner interest, and add value to any marketing campaign. Marketers and advertisers all across the globe are now incorporating custom QR Codes or “designer codes” into their campaigns, proving that this new trend is here to stay; reshaping the appearance of QR Codes as a whole. A custom made QR Code attracts more scans than a plain black-and-white QR code.
Here are some design tips for creating a QR Code campaign –
Design tips to customize a QR Code
#1 Color Palette
Black and white QR Codes are not only outdated, but they usually do not accurately exhibit the intended use of the QR Code. Colorizing QR Codes is the easiest way to attract users’ attention. This, of course, does not imply that the QR Codes can look appealing with any color combination. There are a few protocols to be followed before choosing the colors for QR Codes –
1. Color theme
When choosing the color theme for the QR Code, be sure to incorporate the brand’s color so users can identify it. Use a 40% contrast between the background and foreground colors that help QR Code stand out.
2. Color scheme
Don’t use too many colors with different color schemes as this can render the QR Code unscannable. Gauge the scannability of the code and incorporate the colors in the QR Code accordingly by testing the QR Code.
3. Color gradient
There are several color gradient websites such as uiGradients and ColorZilla that help in deciding colors that go well together.
Always use a high-resolution logo in the code that distinguishes it from other brands and engages with the audience. Use the right quality image for the logo or the background, and make sure that the logo is placed in the center of the code to retain the scannability.
It is best to upload a square logo to avoid compromising on the design. The size of the logo can be increased or decreased using a slider from the dashboar1d of the QR Code generator.
Design the QR Code in line with your marketing campaign. The minimum size of a customized QR Code must be at least 2 cm x 2 cm to scan without any trouble. The size of the QR Code must comply with the placement of the QR Code on the campaign. A QR Code on a billboard must be more significant than that of a QR Code on a brochure. Proportion is the key here.
The “eyes” of the QR Code can also be customized to modify the entire look of the code to keep it uniform.. The color of the eyes can also be changed, but again, change the color accordingly. Place the eyes in a square-shaped frame for easy readability.
Make sure the eyes of the QR Code are not covered. Always make sure to embed code-related designs in the center, so it doesn’t envelop the code, thus making it unscannable.
A quiet zone is essentially the space around the corners of the QR Code. An appropriately spaced QR Code can help scanners distinguish between its surroundings and the code. The code becomes unscannable if the space between the quiet zone and the module is overcompensated. The minimum criteria for the quiet zone is that it is at least four times the width of the modules of the QR Code. Do not overcrowd the quiet zone by entering a lot of data in the code, thus shrinking the size of the pixels.
Leverage dynamic QR Codes
The best way to avoid overcrowding your QR Code is to use a dynamic QR Code. Since a dynamic QR Code uses a placeholder URL, you can have as much information as you like without it looking busy.
The pattern of the data or the module (black pixels on the code) of the QR Code can be changed, making it more aesthetically appealing. The color of the data can also be adjusted to match the overall theme of the QR Code; a template can also be implemented on the QR Code to make uniform changes. The template not only changes the data pattern but also improves the color scheme and eyes of the QR Code.
#7 Add a CTA using a frame around the QR Code
Adding frames that complement the QR Code can amplify its visual look by multiple folds. A frame not only adds uniformity to the QR Code but also makes it look distinctive. Although call-to-action messages can be placed in the center of the code, placing them on the frame with colorful borders can help get more scans.
The background of the QR Code can be changed to let the users know what the QR Code depicts. The background can either comprise an image or just a plain color. Be sure that the background is in agreement with the color scheme of the QR Code. Most scanners can not scan an inverted code. It is best to keep the color scheme of the QR Code and the background in contrast with each other, rather than merging them with similar color palettes, making the QR Code unscannable.
QR Codes contain a plethora of high-value information about the campaign or brand, so it is only sensible to place the QR Code at eye-level for easy scannability. As mentioned before, keep in mind the size of the campaign and then design the QR Code accordingly. We suggest placing the QR Code that can be easily scanned and not tucked away in a corner. Make sure the QR Code stands out, so it is not only easily recognized, but can also be scanned without any hassle.
There are several QR Code generators in the market, but choosing the right one is imperative. A sturdy QR Code generator creates a QR Code that does not expire, leads to a 404 error page and is capable of tracking and analyzing the designed QR Code. The QR Code generator must also provide options to customize the QR Code accordingly.
2. Fill in the data based on the type of QR Code you want to create
Decide on what kind of QR Code you want to develop and its purpose. There are several forms of QR Codes available – website URLs, vCards, e-mails, SMS, etc. Once the type of QR Code is decided on, fill in the data that corresponds with your campaign in the box.
For example, if you want to create a website landing page, enter the website URL in the provided box. This website URL is embedded in the QR Code, and when scanned, the user is directed to the campaign’s landing page. If you want to create a vCard with a QR Code, then fill in the details in the QR Code generator page with the right information.
3. Pick the type of QR Code
There are two types of QR Codes available – static and dynamic. Although a static QR Code can be customized, we’d suggest picking a dynamic QR Code as static codes once created cannot be modified. They are permanent, whereas dynamic QR Codes aren’t. If the agenda of your campaign is “single-use,” then go ahead with static QR Codes. But, if you want to create a QR Code that has to be re-edited, tracked to analyze the audience trends, and update the details of the campaign at regular intervals, then pick dynamic QR Code.
Customization is the best part of creating a QR Code. A campaign best resonates with its brand when its logo is added to the QR Code. Adding a logo to the QR Code will make the brand name look unique. Modify the color of the QR Code that correlates with your brand logo, but be careful to not overpower the code by choosing a color that does not make your logo shine. Pick a color that distinctly contrasts the foreground and the background of the QR Code.
Add an image to the QR Code
If you want to merge the QR Code with print media, then add an image in the background instead of the logo to blur out the campaign’s agenda. Do not add a logo and a background together as the QR Code will end up looking thronged, and hence failing the entire purpose of the created code.
Add a CTA
As indicated previously, a QR code’s eyes can also be revised based on the overall design of the QR Code. Adding a call-to-action with phrases like “Scan Me” or “Scan to Avail an Offer” initiates marginally higher scan rates as opposed to a plain QR Code with no CTA. Adding a template to the QR Code to incorporate CTAs will make the QR Code more appealing.
5. Generate and download the QR Code
Click on generate and download the created QR Code. A QR Code can be downloaded in several formats – JPEG, SVG, EPS, PNG, PDF to QR Code or just a plain file.
Once the QR Code is generated, test it to check if it is scannable, not spammy, and “readable.” Test the final QR Code with various scanning apps to make sure that is it readable.
An essential part of creating a customized QR Code is testing. Test the final designed QR Code with different devices – iOS, Android, and Windows. Sometimes, the generated QR Code might not scan properly, or the landing page can either be broken or may bounce back, or the information fed into the code might not be correct. Hence, testing the QR Code once it is created to correct any loophole is paramount.
A customized QR Code retains its readability only if 30% of the code is edited and not more than that. Make sure not to compensate on the customization level, because if not, the ability to scan the QR Code is lost.
Custom QR Codes use-cases: Where can you use them?
A custom QR Code can be used everywhere and anywhere. Some of the use-cases are –
Billboards and banners
Marketing campaigns on billboards are often described as the most engaging type of marketing as they attract onlookers easily. Incorporating QR Codes on billboards that are large enough to scan is self-explanatory. The QR Code, when scanned, can reveal information about the type of campaign used, such as navigate the user to the store, educate users about new products, offers, and discounts; the list is endless. Make sure the QR Code campaign isn’t placed on highways, subways, or areas where traffic is not stagnant.
Calvin Klein incorporated QR Codes on select billboards in New York and Los Angeles as part of their 2010’s advertising campaign promoting the brand’s latest skinny jeans. The QR Code was placed strategically at street level so users could scan them, and upon scanning, the code would direct the users to an exclusive CK Jeans video, which could be shared with friends on social media.
A QR Code on a menu can be used for multiple purposes – for reviews and rating, social media following, access to the food gallery, events, discounts and offers, to improve business, and so on. Integrating a QR Code on a menu can not only improve the overall dining experience for customers but also help enterprises to grow, ultimately increasing the rate of returning customers. QR Code on a menu has to be placed in such a way that there are no chances of it being missed by the customers. The size of the QR Code on menus cannot be as large as that on billboards. They have to be marginally smaller and proportional to the extent of the menu, so it remains scannable. Make sure to include either an image, logo or CTA to ensure the scanning number is high.
Brochures are a direct marketing print media tool for brands that divulges details about the business and what it offers. QR Codes on brochures is the ideal route to transform digital content into print media and to reach out to customers.
Brochures are ideally more informative and contain page(s) of detailed information. Brochures are generally used for events, company branding, sales, advertising, and mailers. Decide the kind of QR Code based on the information the code contains and then customize the QR Code appropriately. A brochure QR Code should be a minimum of 2 cm x 2 cm, so it is easily scannable. Avoid placing the QR Code on the edges to retain the readability of the code.
vCards, in short, are electronic business cards that contain contact details like name, address, e-mail address, URLs, or any other information that is relevant to the business. Incorporating QR Codes on vCards is the easiest way to direct the user to reveal more about the businesses/brands. QR Codes on vCards cannot be ginormous. They must disclose vital details about businesses with just a single tap.
Social media platforms
According to Statista, about 90% of US companies use social media for marketing purposes. It only implies that social media is a powerful marketing tool for all marketing campaigns. Irrespective of the size of the business or brand, social media advertising has a proven record that it is the most successful kind of marketing.
Include QR Codes on your campaign material that redirects the users to your social media pages like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube upon scanning them. Let your creative juices flow and make it as engaging as possible. Social media QR Codes can not only be tracked but can also be edited any number of times based on the campaign requirements.
Location-based QR Codes are another way of simplifying the process of finding directions to a particular business or event, to highlight a tourist attraction spot, to redirect the user to the point of interest or to create landmarks. A location-based QR Code can easily be created by entering the location’s coordinates on the map and using the same link to generate a QR Code, which upon scanning, directs the user to the said location.
A location-based QR Code can be placed anywhere – brochures, texts, social media pages, billboards, flyers, and so on. Make sure to include “Maps” as the logo on the QR Code, so users know that it is indeed a location-based QR Code.
A QR Code can be customized to fit any purpose and any space depending on the requisites of a particular campaign. Brands like Adidas, Puma, Macy’s amongst other major brand names have joined the wagon of customizing their QR Codes for marketing campaigns to witness a steep rise in sales and user engagement. Custom-made QR Codes for branding sets them apart from other companies as their advertisements are easily recognizable. Not just this, it also helps brands cut costs from repeated marketing gigs and boost productivity. QR Codes are easily scannable by smartphones, which makes them all the more desirable as a marketing tool.