The Beautiful Barcode

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Monday, August 8, 2011

We see them on everything, the necessary evil, that black and white eyesore; I am of course referring to barcodes. Barcodes make life easier, they do much more good than harm and I believe we all recognize that, but what if they were not the ugly black and white square sitting on top of the otherwise sublime artwork, what if they were incorporated in the design, what if a barcode was as unique and distinguishable as a logo, what if we pushed graphic designers to make the barcode a thing of beauty?

Well there is good news; some manufacturers already have barcode art rolling on to the shelf. As it turns out that there are very few restrictions for barcodes. A little bit of white space around the code, a large enough complete code for ease of scanning, and not using a few specific colors. With so few barcode requirements it seems that barcodes can be anything a manufacturer wants, even a real part of a product's box art.

Why would product manufactures want to make such an unorthodox change? It seems that more and more companies are hiding their barcodes, placing them at the bottom of the box or placed below trademark information; why not just hide the ugly black and white lines? The answer is simple; it catches consumer attention and sells products, the ultimate goal of consumer artwork.

We cannot expect everyone to start redesigning their product to work in a cute barcode design. Obviously some products may not benefit nearly as much as others from an eye catching barcode; most of us do not buy generics for their unique artwork. I do feel however that it would be a huge mistake for manufacturers to completely overlook the idea, particularly those turning to a more modern design.

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