5 Creative Uses of QR Codes to Play Around With

Want to know how you can maximize your marketing results by using QR Codes? Here are five creative uses of QR Codes and how to apply them to upgrade your strategy. We explore best practices, where there’s room for improvement, and how to compose the perfect QR Code Design with QR Code Generator.

Consumers are inundated all day with ads, info, and just about everything on their digital devices. So how do we grab the attention of a digitally distracted consumer? The recipe is simple: a dash of creativity, a little bit of strategy, and a whole lot of QR Codes. Not sure how to make a QR Code with style? You stopped off at the right place.

#1 A QR Code on a bike saddle cover

QR Codes displayed on branded bike saddle covers.
A QR Code is cleverly displayed on a bike saddle cover. Source: On Yer Bike Seat

OnYerBikeSeat(OYBS) joined forces with Save the Student to launch an outdoor campaign to attract more students to their website, a site for student financial tips, discounts, and killer bargains. OYBS created custom-made bike seat covers for Save the Student to promote brand awareness and drive new subscribers to their website. The QR Code was not just an accessory — it was a bonus feature where students walking by on the street could scan the code to download a money cheat sheet on the spot.

Bonus points for creativity:

  • Good color contrast: the rich purple backdrop juxtaposed against the white QR Code makes it attractive, easy to read, and scan.
  • Visible location: brand new purple covers on bike saddles are pretty noticeable. It would be silly not to scan the mysterious QR Code in their eye view.
  • Bright colors: the vibrant choice of color makes the bike saddle design stand out.
  • Clear CTA: the CTA (call-to-action) clarifies the purpose of the QR Code.

This creative use of QR Codes is a total attention seeker in the campaign!

What could be improved?

  • No frame: adding a frame to your QR Code helps protect the quiet zone (the area of the QR Code that separates it from the external designs), ensuring scannability. You can’t go wrong with QR Code frames
  • No logo: adding a logo ensures that your QR Code seems trustworthy and safe to scan, especially in public places.

Which QR Code works best?

In this scenario, a Website QR Code worked exceptionally well because users were sent to the landing page once they scanned the QR Code. From there, users could fill in their details (name and email addresses) which granted them access to financial hacks. This is mutually beneficial for both students and the company: students learn how to be more financially savvy in exchange for their personal information, and Save the Student drives more traffic to their website.

#2 A QR Code on a business card

A business card featuring a simple QR Code design.
A business card design featuring a QR Code.

By adding a QR Code to your business card, alongside your name and contact information, you can extend an invitation to clients to visit other important portals. For example, a designer could create an Image Gallery QR Code to give prospective clients a quick insight into their portfolio, or, as in the above example, it could link to a website.

Bonus points for creativity:

  • Clean design: distinguishable details, with a simple color scheme that allows the QR Code to pop.
  • Clear typography: A simple typeface makes it easier to read the accompanying QR Code.

What could be improved?

  • No logo: Incorporating a brand or company image in the center of the QR Code can enhance brand identity and make your business card more recognizable. 
  • No CTA: at first glance, it’s not clear what this specific QR Code might do. A snappy CTA will pique a potential client’s interest, bringing more scans.
  • Size proportion: the size of the QR Code takes up too much space on the business card. Minimizing the size will make it more visually appealing and spacious.

Which QR Code works best?

vCard QR Code is a perfect addition to print business cards because it transforms them into a digital version. Digital business cards make networking so much easier because you don’t need to give out tons of print copies. Instead, you can share your contact information via the QR Code business card. The other person can automatically save it to their phone or share it with others. Try this creative use of QR Codes and let the networking begin! 

#3 A QR Code on historical sites

History lovers, this one’s for you. Shanghai is bringing its historical sites to life with QR Codes. With QR Codes displayed on more than 1,000 buildings, tourists and locals are transported back in time to learn about the history of Shanghai. By the scan of their mobile phone, tourists can read texts, look at pictures, listen to audio, and watch videos as they walk by.

Bonus points for creativity:

  • Good color contrast: the black over the white background makes the QR Code more visible and readable. 
  • CTA: “Scan to read more” call-to-action clearly shows the purpose of the QR Code. 
  • Eye-level position: the QR Code is easily distinguishable and scannable from a typical standing position.

What to improve?

  • Small QR Code: the QR Code isn’t visible from a distance. A bigger QR Code would attract more attention — and ensure more scans.  
  • Skew QR Code: the QR Code appears to not fit into the square frame properly. This is visually distracting and could come across as unfinished and unprofessional.

The type of QR Code you need for this:

In this context, the ideal QR Code would need to not be dependent on an internet connection. The perfect solution for tourists to access info about this heritage site is with a PDF QR Code. What’s amazing about this code is that it’s a Dynamic QR Code which means that you can keep updating the content without needing to change the QR Code — especially convenient when a QR Code is carved out of alternative material. 

This flexible QR Code is an easy way to share information; it’s mobile-friendly, and from the PDF, you can direct users to your website which they explore once they’re connected to the internet again. 

#4 A QR Code on a keychain

Wallet? Check. Phone? Check. Keys? Wait — where are my keys?

Sounds familiar? For those times in life when something important goes astray, this creative QR Code solution helps reunite lost items with their owners. By scanning the keychain’s code, you’re directed to a simple landing page that allows you to say who you are and where you found the item. For the owner of the lost item, it’s also more data-secure than writing a name, address, or other personal details.

But there are more functional uses to a keychain that you don’t want to overlook. QR Codes on keychains are brilliant promotional tools that can boost your brand awareness. How? You can use it as a promotional giveaway after your customer purchases one of your products. 

Your customers can add your keychain to their set of keys – an item they’re already using regularly! Who doesn’t love a freebie?  This creative use of QR Codes may be handy for everyday use, but it’s an even better tool for your marketing strategy.  

Bonus points for creativity:

  • User-friendly: finders only need to scan the QR Code and leave a message to register that they have found your item, easily —  and without fuss.
  • Simple design: featuring a white QR Code on a white background, the QR Code itself is easily distinguishable and scannable.

What to improve?

  • Color scheme: although the keychain’s simple design allows for optimal usability, brighter, bolder colors would help it stand out.
  • No CTA: the QR Code loses its purpose without a clear call to action. 
  • No logo: a logo promotes your brand identity and ensures that your QR Code is secure to scan.

The type of QR Code you need for this:

Personal use:

If you’d like to create something similar for personal use, you can use an Email QR Code. If someone finds your item and wishes to contact you, it’s easy for them to send you a message. There are other creative QR Codes you can use for this, however — a Text QR Code with simple contact instructions, or, if you’re happy with giving away some personal information, you could use a vCard QR Code to let the finder get in touch with you.

For your business: 

If you really want to win your customers over, opt for a QR Code Coupon for your keychain.  What a pleasant surprise it will be for them to discover a gift within a gift! A great feature about a coupon QR Code is that you can add your website onto the page — and a CTA that directs them to your landing page.

#5 A QR Code on a product display

This store designed a KitchenAid product display with a QR Code enabling customers to find and order their perfect color via the QR Code. By showing the full range of colors available, both enhance the display and help customers with their purchasing decisions.

Bonus points for creativity:

  • A professional display design: this product display is extremely well-designed because it emphasizes the value and directs attention to the QR Code.
  • Clear CTA: the CTA “Scan the code + find it fast” highlights the purpose of the QR Code and encourages scans.
  • A helpful description of the QR Code’s purpose: The description beneath the QR Code CTA explains what will happen as a result of scanning it, so there is no chance of confusion.

What to improve?

  • No logo: a logo in the QR Code would give KitchenAid an additional branding boost.

Overall, a smart, efficient, and creative use of QR Codes!

The type of QR Code you need for this:

You can use any type of QR Code display on a product. So, if you have a similar situation like KitchenAid, you have a few different options. You can use an Image Gallery QR Code to display images of all the different colors for products. You might also use a Video QR Code to give even further insight into the colors or even how the product works. Or you might use a Dynamic Website URL Code to send users to a landing page directly.

When it comes to creativity, QR Codes know no bounds. These 5 creative uses of QR Codes are just a few ideas that can help you to optimize your marketing strategy. And as you can tell, there’re always ways to improve your QR Code design. We give you the freedom to choose which QR Code would be best suited for your needs, but we certainly don’t shy away from giving you advice on what could maximize your marketing efforts. Get inspired with the most creative use of QR Codes.

Robyn Albertyn

Robyn Albertyn is a content writer for Bitly from Cape Town, South Africa. She’s previously written about preventative health and wellness, and specializes in creative writing and copywriting. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her hiking up majestic mountains, or discovering the best coffee hotspots in her city. Feel free to say hi to her on LinkedIn.

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