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Wall Street Journal “Art in Aisle 5: Barcodes Enter Expressionist Period”

“Food manufacturer GLK Foods LLC had initial concerns that tinkering with its barcodes could interfere with their ability to scan, says Ryan Downs, vice president of the Bear Creek, Wisc.-based company. Ms. Miller of Vanity Barcodes, who is also a principal at branding and design firm Miller Creative LLC, suggested GLK add an olive tree to the barcode of its Verdi Italian-food line. After testing, the olive-tree-adorned barcodes scanned properly.

Since then, GLK has also added olives to the design of its mobile barcode, a different type of ID increasingly being used on consumer products. Shoppers are able to snap a picture of the code with a smartphone and automatically be directed to a website about the product, a coupon or a marketing campaign.

Breaking Out of the Box

On a barcode, “there are certain things you can change, certain things you can’t and then there is sort of a gray area,” says Ms. Miller. For a scanner to read a barcode it usually needs to be about a half inch high, blank space is needed on either side, and the lines can’t be made out of some colors the scanner can’t see, like red, yellow or orange, she says.”

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