Creative Barcode Design To Amp Up Your Branding

by Maverick Label | February 18, 2016

Barcode design is an often-overlooked design element in branding packaging or product labels. This is surprising—being innovative with packaging or product labels can go a long way towards creating a memorable product for consumers.  And one way to accomplish that is to creatively incorporate the barcode.

Barcodes are on nearly everything we buy—from a gallon of milk to a new television set. Required for any retail products, these simple little lines and numbers are often ignored on product labels and packaging. 

The misconception about barcodes is that they have to remain boring and perfunctory. The truth is a very small area is needed to actually read the barcode information. Because of this, the space that surrounds the small area of data is just waiting to be incorporated creatively on product labels. 

Often referred to as a vanity barcode or illustrated barcode, barcode design first began to be noticed after a Japanese design firm began incorporating barcodes in their packaging designs. And, other firms and designers took notice. Below are some fantastic examples of barcode design:

5 Great Examples of Barcode Design

1. Payette Brewery

Vanity Barcodes worked with an advertising agency out of Idaho, Drake Cooper, to come up with this unique barcode design, which incorporates the state of Idaho (where Payette Brewery is located) into the barcode. Vanity Barcodes report this barcode gets a perfect scan every time.

Idaho state shape in barcode design on beer can

2. Steve Simpson - WIP

Illustrator and graphic designer, Steve Simpson, creatively incorporated these barcodes into his work-in-progress packaging design for Voodoo Pets (a line of dog and cat shampoo and other pet products). The product barcode is turned into the teeth of the dog and cat.

Two unique barcode designs as the teeth of cat and dog cartoon figures

3. Mic's BBQ Sauce

Cleverly incorporating the Aztec-themed branding of Mic’s BBQ Sauce into the barcode, illustrator and graphic designer Steve Simpson won the Gold bell award for packaging design in ICAD 2013 Awards for his design. The product barcode is made from the legs and beaks of birds.

Mic's Chili BBQ sauce bottle with Incan characters on the barcode design

4. 3 Cows On 2 Cats

A great example of incorporating the barcode in packaging design but keeping it simple, the Brandiziac agency in Russia designed this packaging to incorporate fun characters for this line of ready-made milkshakes for kids. The barcode fills the space for the cat character’s body.

3 Cows 2 Cats milkshake boxes with cat shaped barcode design

5. Guitar Amp

While we’re not exactly sure what type of product graphic designer, Fanakalo, created this electric guitar and amp barcode for, we can easily imagine it on the packaging or product labels for electric guitar strings, sheet music, a CD, or even on musical instrument boxes.

Unique barcode design with barcode appearing as amp next to electric guitar

After seeing examples like these, it’s easy to be convinced that incorporating a barcode design into your packaging or product labels is a no-brainer. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when designing your branded barcode.

5 Tips For Barcode Design

1.Leave space on either end of the barcode to indicate to the scanner the beginning and end of the code

2.Include a generous horizontal strip of uninterrupted code

3.Integrate the number string into the design as well; it's included should the barcode become unreadable by the scanner

4.Change or add color but make sure a good contrast is present for scanning readability

5.Always print and test barcode with a scanner or reader

Once you’ve designed your product labels complete with a barcode design, the next step is printing your your labels. Check out our product label page to see our full range of custom-printed product label offerings.