vanity barcode farmInnovations in graphic design and packaging can make the difference in creating a memorable product. One new trend in packaging design is the vanity barcode. Vanity barcodes bend the rules that govern standardized UPC codes in the United States to create something that is both functional and attractive.

Who Makes Barcodes?

Barcode numbers are assigned to products by a non-profit organization. Those numbers are then given to a firm hired by the company to create the associated barcode. The UPC code is important for stores because it allows them to re-price products without going around and tagging each item. Now there are several new firms around the world that are making vanity barcodes as an alternative to the traditional barcodes. This emphasis on graphic design represents a revolution in the highly standardized barcode industry.

Who’s Using Vanity Barcodes?

Vanity barcodes are mostly used by smaller companies, but even the marketing giant Nestle has been testing the waters of the vanity barcode. Larger companies are hesitant to change their barcodes, since a poorly designed barcode can prevent a product from scanning properly. For big brands, that could mean huge slow downs for stores. With smaller companies, there is less concern, and barcodes can be field tested before they are applied more widely to products.

Some brands you might recognize that are using vanity barcodes include Bear Naked granola, whose barcode features a growing stalk of wheat, and Skinny Cow desserts, whose new vanity barcodes are shaped like a cow’s spot. Yael Miller’s vanity barcode company has designed barcodes that look like beer mugs, cameras, the state of California, and more. In today’s market where options abound and consumers have an array of products to choose from, any clever marker that helps your brand or product stand out is worth considering.

The vanity barcode is also sometimes just that – vanity. Some Duane Reader pharmacies have added New York themed barcodes to their store brand items, but those barcodes are not meant to be scanned. These barcodes are simply a fun design element that customers can enjoy.

You Can Have Your Own!

Hopping on the vanity barcode trend, there are now also vanity QR codes. You can get your own QR code with your text embedded in it, such as your name. This is an easy way for small companies to create a graphic link on their advertisements. Or, if you’ve always wanted to see your name in code, you can create your own!

Will your business be tempted to use or create vanity barcodes? Have you seen them on products you buy?