Making UPC barcodes less boring

I always assumed messing around with your product’s barcode for marketing purposes was, like, a violation of the Geneva Convention or something. Like if you tried to turn your packaging’s boring rectangular barcode into a zebra, or whatever, you’d start to get late-night phone calls from Brussels: “Nice supply chain you have there. Be a shame if something were to, you know, happen to it.” Turns out nobody really cares, so long as it scans, and there’s now a Japanese firm that specializes in barcode funification (although it seems like any competent graphic designer could probably do it just as well). [via Neatorama]

12 thoughts on “Making UPC barcodes less boring

  1. fyi – there are guidelines and standards, and that by changing them you may make your barcode not as easily “scanable”. ie: at 100% size the code is meant to be scanned easily at any angle… if you reduce it to say 70% will will still scan, but the clerk may have to get the angle just right for the laser to see it.
    Also, I’ve been told that bringing a barcode into a vector program can distort it (I don’t know if I believe that though).

  2. Have you ever had to stand around, as the cashier tries, 10plus times to scan the barcode on one of your items? I’ll bet you have. Now, that’s when everything is optimal, and the barcode STILL gets munged to the point of being unreadable. Those big giant barcodes on UPS packages??? They’re that way because those boxes get minor cosmetic damage in shipping, and can easily be rendered unreadable if they aren’t so huge. Take it from somebody who has extensive experience with high-end barcode scanners… Anything that affects those funny-looking little lines isn’t going to fly. Now, those flower/windmill ones which don’t materially affect the barcode area might be fine, but the others are completely ridiculous, and won’t fly with any company that does any reasonable volume of sales.

  3. Whats been claimed is ridiculuuus.

    As a graphic designers for music industry, making CD prints.We recives the barcode-code, genereate it (via a font and web service) and squick it into quark express from Ilustratoor file,.. We f@@k with it as much as we please as long as the proportions are all right.. That means… cut it in half if needed? yes no problem… Add a tree? why not, its been done many times by creatives

    noprob! dont make it sound like a nuke-tech

  4. Another example is with the card that comes with (at least) the 2nd generation of iPod nano Product(red) with the legs of people.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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