What Are Stylized QR Codes? - Feb 2017
Stylized QR Codes are QR Codes that are not basic black and white grids and have been designed in a way that represents the owners brand identity or for another purpose.
You are looking at stylized QR Codes when you see QR Codes that have an image embedded in the centre, or where the modules around the centre appear to form an image. You could even refer to QR Codes that just have been colours strategically placed in them to make them more appealing, “Stylized”.
The reason people are doing this is that QR Codes are traditionally quite boring to look at, so you want to make yours memorable and stand out in a crowd. Here are a couple of examples that spring to mind.
In this QR Code created for Instagram (the popular photo sharing network), the traditionally black squares that form part of the image have been replaced with actual small photos. You can see this a lot more clearly in this expanded image. From a QR Code readers point of view, this presents no problems in decoding the image, but from a marketing perspective, it represents the Instagram brand and exactly what they are known for.
This one is pretty simple but effective. Its a tribute to Steve Jobs. The QR Code itself has been padded with additional fake squares so as to allow the designer to build it up to the shape of the Apple logo.
The ability to do this with QR Codes, particularly when your are including high resolution images in the centre of your codes, is mainly thanks to QR Codes having built in Error Correction. There is a type of QR Code that was developed specifically for this purpose, the Frame QR Code, although its adoption and compatibility is not as widespread.
If you're new to QR Codes and want to learn a little more, then take the time to read What's A QR Code
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If you want something a little more technical, try The Technical Stuff