QR Codes: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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It all started back in 1994.

An automobile parts manufacturer, Denso Wave (at the time known as the Denso Corporation) came up with an ingenious method of inventorying their stock.

Up until then, they had used (as we all have) bar codes. A scanner of some sort “read” the barcode and translated that digital information into physical information.

Think about when you go to the grocery store: no more punching of prices into a cash register. The items are run across a scanner, the scanner takes the information that is digitally attached to the specific bar code, and that information is reproduced in the form of a readout on the register and as a printed receipt.

Simple enough, right?

But barcodes are limited in the amount of information that can be stored. Add to that, all scanners can’t read all bar codes. (The next time you’re at a store and your item doesn’t “scan,” the barcode is fine, it’s the scanner itself that hasn’t been programmed to read it.)

So then the “bigger is better” minds went to work and came up with a revolutionary technology: the QR Code.

Simply put, a QR (Quick Response) code is a piece of physical information that can be scanned to access the digital information behind it.

Yeah, that’s the same as a bar code.

Oh, goodness, no. They’re so much more. Here’s the key difference: a QR code (when scanned) takes the user to a specific website that has been attached to the code.

It’s really quite a simple process. Would you believe that a QR code is actually a printed version of a web address that a QR scanner can read?

That’s one big advantage to the QR code over a bar code: a bar code is a one-shot deal with the information that it leads to. A QR code (while it will always lead to the exact same web address) can access whatever information the owner wants it to. It’s a simple case of just changing the copy on the website.

There are free QR Code reading apps available just about any kind of smart phone you have.

So what are QR codes good for?

A quick look at the good and the so-terrible-we-can’t-stand-it:


They’re perfect in print advertisements. The ad space is limited to what will fit on the page, but a QR code can lead you to the advertiser’s website, offering you pages and pages of information.


QR Codes are USELESS when they are included on a web page, or any place online. The reason? You’re already online! The very nature of the code is to get you to access a page on the internet. If you’re already online, a link is a much more efficient (and less DUH) method of steering you toward the desired target.

Add to that, if you’re using your smart phone, there’s no ninja move fast enough that would allow you to scan a QR code you saw on your phone.


Perfect for both black and white and color advertisements. WE cannot stress this point enough: they are perfect for printed materials like magazines, brochures, newspapers and fliers.


QR Codes are not meant to be on any sort of moveable advertising. Like this:











Ironic that it’s an emergency room doing the advertising.

Imagine, you’re driving down the road and someone in the backseat randomly asks, “Hey, do you know of a good emergency room by chance?”

You grab your phone to search, and voila! That bus is in front of you. If you try to scan the QR code, yeah…you’re probably going to get a firsthand view of that ER.

Some other terrible placements that just make us laugh:

This will most likely get you slapped.

This could be shocking.

And this would just piss people off.


We hope this has given you a little bit of understanding about what a QR Codes are and (more importantly) what they’re good for. For businesses of any size, these handy tools can be an affordable and highly effective method of drawing your potential customers to your site.

If there’s anything we can do to help or you have any questions, please feel free to email us right here.

Have a good week!

The team at Kinetica Print


sources: Globaldenso.com, QRcode.com