More Fun with Wild and Crazy Barcodes

 In Barcode Quality Training

Here we go again with wild and crazy barcodes. The barcode risk management business can seem oppressively serious, but that is simply not true: it can be downright fun! We are inviting you to join the fun—more about that later. First, here are some of the better (worse) barcodes we have seen lately:

On the left, the QR Code in this advertisement looks sleek and horizontal. Unfortunately it should look square and fails the ANU parameter for Axial Nonuniformity.

The QR Code on the right fails the FPD parameter for Fixed Pattern Damage, because of the quiet zone violations at the top and left of the symbol.

QR Codes should have a full surround quiet zone of 4X, or four times the X dimension or module size.



Looking at these QR Codes is a reminder of the many times marketers have puzzled over why the QR Code has not experienced widespread acceptance in the US, as it has elsewhere. Do you think that might have something to do with QR codes like these?

The QR Code on the left has been designed–to death. What has been done is a nice idea, but remembering that the symbol is there to send a viewer to a website makes the design decision a questionable idea. The designer’s defense is always…“…but it makes it more likely a viewer will scan it…”

The brand owner’s response should always be…“…but it makes it less likely it will work.”

Here are some fun 1D barcodes.

You can always count on R.C. Bigelow for interesting design license with the barcodes on their tea. On the right, this is from their Earl Grey product, recounting the days of tea transported across the oceans by wind power.

On the left, the barcode cleverly emulates the golden blossom of the chamomile flower

Few designers have exercised a freedom this unfettered with barcodes. Most notably, Bigelow’s barcodes, although highly creative and attention arresting, always work. Unlike what is so often the case, not just with QR Codes but with other types of barcodes too, Bigelow’s barcodes are an example of a great collaboration between the graphic designers and the brand owner. Working together toward a common goal, they really got it right.

Sub-minimal size UPC’s are not unusual but it is a bit rare to find them on health packaging.

This tiny NDC3 GTIN 12 (UPC) is 51% magnification, well below the minimum 80% size for a symbol of this type.

It is remarkably well printed considering the very small X dimension–about .0066″. Printing a barcode this small challenges the printer as well as the  scanner. It is difficult to reproduce many thousands of these images successfully when the tolerances are so small–but even if you do, those perfectly reproduced, very small x dimensions may not be readable with the scanner. A pity since this product package has plenty of room for a larger, compliant symbol.

Here is the invitation mentioned earlier. When you find a barcode that catches your eye, visit Post images of interesting (whatever “interesting” means to you) barcodes there. Then, share the fun: tell the world and send a link on social media!

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