How to use barcodes in your design and print projects

Chris Robey

Author: Chris Robey
12th February 2021

integrated cards

How do you add versatility and value to a printed item without increasing production costs?

The answer for many is through barcodes. Their functionality is not new, they have supported inventory tracking since 1973, yet they are coming into their element in the global response to the pandemic. Organisations are carefully considering how they communicate, engage and track their audience responses whilst ensuring that their messages are received, understood and acted upon. Equally, we’re seeing barcodes in vaccination letters and track and trace resources, which is boosting user familiarity and confidence.


The benefits of barcodes:

  • Less face-to-face contact
  • Secure records
  • Measuring engagement accurately
  • Trusted and secure data handling
  • Inexpensive to use and print
  • Reduction in human error
  • Highly versatile.

There are many different types of barcode. Those widely used in retail and inventory tracking include Code 39 , UPC and Interleaved 2 of 5. EAN barcodes are printed in books and QR (Quick Response) codes are the most common type of barcode for mailing and marketing materials. QR codes have the benefit of storing more information, without being size sensitive, making them easy to incorporate within artwork. 

Popular uses for barcodes in these changing times...

As we respond to our clients’ many and varied needs, we’re printing barcodes on labels, within mailing campaigns and marketing materials. (The artwork often originates from our Graphic Design team too). Let us share a few applications that are proving popular:

  • Using QR codes within printed marketing materials to direct recipients to online information that could change. It’s hard to make any affirmative plans at the minute, so if you’re sharing a message that could be subject to change, still  harness the power of tangible, trusted printed items, but include a QR code. The linked web page can then share the latest information on details such as opening times. This principal works whether your marketing items are door drop mailers, direct mail letters, posters or more!
  • Barcodes are supporting the accuracy and efficiency of automated mailings. More organisations are struggling to coordinate the production, fulfilment and despatch of letters in-house, as teams work differently and often away from the office. In delivering this service for you, mailing production lines will use barcodes to match variable inserts with envelopes. This gives 100% accuracy and ensures that each and every letter is counted into the postal system. Beyond the peace of mind this gives our clients, the automation that barcodes support guarantees an economical cost per letter.
  • QR codes can be printed on corporate gifts. Branded promotional products provide a valuable touchpoint with your contacts, yet at the minute they might be distributed in a way that doesn’t come with the face-to-face interaction that you might get at an event for example. Linking to an online message or instructions associated with the gift will add value to it. For example, we’ve recently produced some branded tyre tread depth gauges and a QR code on them points to online guidance on this theme.

We're here to help...

The good news is that our specialists are here to guide you through the process of barcode generation and printing, allowing you to reap the benefits of barcode technology across your workflows and customer journeys. To find out more please get in touch.

Enquire about using barcodes in your design & print projects

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