Marmite and QR Codes. You Either Love Em’ or Hate Em’

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Written by: Ari Fuld (@arifuld)
Social Media And Content Manager At Visualead 


After scanning the social media playground I have found that people look at QR Codes like  Marmite, you either love em‘ or hate em‘.(For those of you not from the UK Marmite is a yeast extract that the British love to eat.) Personally , I am an American and  can’t stand the stuff.

 There are those who rave about QR Codes like they are the next big thing and then there are those who bash them and even eulogize them as a fad that’s about to die.

So where do these funny looking squares stand and why do so many people despise them?

“Your Child Has A Lot Of  Potential”

Remember when your teachers told your parents you had a lot potential? It was the teacher’s way of letting your parents know that while they believe in you, you are not doing a good job.

That’s exactly where QR Codes stand right now. In a world where over 3 billion people are using mobile phones and the mobile market is valued at one trillion dollars, (Yes! With a T) the potential of QR Code technology that allows customers and users to engage anywhere, anytime using their phones  is astronomical but something is missing that is holding the QR Code back.

There are currently 955 million Facebook users. A recent article on Mashable warned that those who have not joined the Facebook craze might be dubbed as abnormal by employers and even by psychiatrists.

 Sometimes Companies Forget That FUNctional begins With FUN!

So why aren’t all businesses using QR Codes to increase customer engagement? Why hasn’t the  QR Code enjoyed the popularity that most social networks enjoy? After all, the functionality of a  QR Codes is so much greater than  a tweet or a pin.

Who wants Functional?

There is one major difference between a social media platform and a QR Code. Facebook was developed to allow people to communicate  while the QR Code was designed to enable machines to communicate. Facebook offers an experience while QR Codes offer a function.  If people were interested in  just being functional we would be driving around in something like this:

While it will get us from place A to place B and is very cost effective I think it would be safe to say that we would all rather be driving around in one of these?


QR Codes were originally designed to track auto parts and were confined to industrial uses.The QR Code’s job was to enable communication between two machines or computers and in no way designed to interact with humans. With the introduction of QR Code scanners on Smartphones companies realized they can engage potential customers anywhere, anytime.

Yes We Put A QR Code On A Maserati!

A simple print ad can be turned into an interactive experience with the help of a QR Code and a Smartphone.

The ability to lead users from print to mobile is fantastic. There is however one action that has to be taken in order to lead a customer from print to mobile, the customer has to make the  the first move and scan the QR Code.  Why aren’t people scanning QR Codes? Why should they? More often than not QR Codes can be found on ads and billboards with absolutely no incentive for a user to take out their phone and interact.

A QR Code without an incentive,

wait for it ……….

Is like fishing without any bait.



Here is an example of a QR Code designed with the Visualead generator.

Why would anyone walk into this Burger joint and not scan this code?
Scan and receive FREE french Fries with your burger

Location! Location! Location!

Here are some of the most common mistakes businesses are making when using QR Codes.

The biggest problem with the QR Code is where to place it in an ad or a design?  Due to the QR Code’s  unappealing design companies often stick the QR Code in the lower corner of an ad making it harder to find and less probable to be scanned.

If you find your QR Code such an eye sore to a design that you have to stick it in the corner you might be better off not putting it in at all.It’s quite simple, if it looks ugly to you then it’s going to look ugly to us

Here’s a beautiful example of a horrible QR Code ad.

The person walking by the ad on the left  isn’t given an incentive to scan the weird looking thing in the corner. Even if  curiosity got the best of them, they would have to get down on their knees to scan something that they have no idea where it’s going to bring them.  In Twitter jargon this is called #FAIL   






Let’s take a look at a better placed QR Code ad generated by VISUALEAD below.

Now that we understand that location is important let’s understand why designers stick QR Codes in the corner. A designer’s job is to create the most appealing, unique design that will have an emotional effect on anyone who lays their

eyes on it. Why would anyone in their right mind take a machine generated checkered box and place it over a well thought out design concept?








Disney realized that a QR Code in the corner just doesn’t work, so they put there’s dead center. One small problem, Disney’s three icons;  the mouse, the duck and the elephant  have been eradicated by some alien form!

Yet another design created by the VISUALEAD generator.

Where Did Mickey Go? “This custom QR Code design was created using our Visualead generator in under a minute.

Add The Code But Leave The Mouse Alone.It’s time to rethink how we use and show off QR Codes. At Visualead we are taking the functional QR Code and turning  it into a more creative,  communicative and innovative call to action. We help you create QR Codes that were designed to communicate with humans not machines.One last detail has to be discussed when talking about QR Codes. They are so damn ugly! In a world that is moving towards visual communication,  looks are everything.


Many companies are paying hundreds of dollars for beautiful custom QR Codes. The reason cost rises with the custom design of a QR Code is due to the time and effort the designer has to put into creating the code and then making sure the code is scannable.




Apple comes out with a new iPhone every year, Samsung updates their tablets as well. Technology is constantly changing and updates are constantly being made.

We at Visualead believe it’s time for the next generation QR Code. Our beta site is live and open. Anything you design and create using the Visualead generator is yours to use, all we ask for is your feedback.

Remember: Don’t Be Square!

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