What Are the Pros and Cons of a Color QR Code?

Alex Newth

A quick-response (QR) code is a type of barcode that can be scanned for information or to be directed to a website. Most are black and white, though a color QR code can be made. One problem with a color QR code is that poorly selected colors can create an unreadable code. If too many colors are used, then people may feel the code is obnoxious and won't want to scan it. Most QR codes are in black and white, so a color one may stand out from the others, and businesses known by certain colors can use this to increase branding and recognition.

A color QR code must offer contrast similar to a black and white in order to be effective.
A color QR code must offer contrast similar to a black and white in order to be effective.

When a color QR code is created, the colors must be carefully picked. Otherwise, the QR code may not be picked up by a mobile phone or other device. For example, if the background is dark with a dark foreground, then the device may be unable to recognize the information elements and will disregard the QR code. The same thing occurs if both the background and foreground are light. There should be contrast, with either a light background and dark foreground, or a dark background and light foreground.

Most people who create a color QR code stick with using one or two colors, and this commonly draws people’s attention. Using three, four or more colors can become obnoxious, and some people may refuse to scan the QR code because of this. It also may make the QR code hard to look at, which can decrease people’s interest in scanning the code.

The majority of QR codes are black and white, and a quick way to stand out in this market is to create a color QR code. If the colors are correctly balanced and pleasing to see, then people may take quick notice of the QR code and be instantly interested in scanning it. If the QR code is placed around other color QR codes, then this effect may be lessened unless the user’s code differentiates from the normal colors used.

Some businesses are recognized by the color of their logo or marketing, and this can be used to build branding and recognition. For example, if a business is known for using purple and gold and these colors are used in the QR code, someone who likes the company may be more willing to scan the code. This is rarely a problem for good marketing, but if the colors do not look good next to each other, this effect may be decreased.

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