QR codes - those blocky, black and white squares of digital information that take the user to an app or webpage on their smartphone - have a mixed reputation around the world.

In places like the United States and Europe, QR codes were everywhere in the early to mid-2010s, but fizzled out due to poor implementation, and are generally regarded as a relic of a bygone era.

In China, however, as well as Japan (where they originated) and increasingly South-East Asia, QR codes are seen as everyday and commonplace: a quick and seamless way to join the offline world with the online one. Their simplistic, un-technical nature and their ease of creation have ensured their popularity in Asia - whereas in the west, they are the reasons that QR codes are regarded as gimmicky, unsophisticated and annoying.

In reality, it all comes down to implementation. QR codes have both strengths and weaknesses, and the right campaign can play to their strengths while avoiding their weak points - while the wrong one can fail by falling prey to common mistakes.

In this article, I'll give an overview of the pros and cons of QR codes, before examining some best practice examples of brands who are putting QR codes to great use in a marketing, advertising or commerce context. Finally, I'll round up a few mistakes you must absolutely avoid at all costs when using QR codes in marketing.

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