QR codes with an artistic touch

Who: Informa Group with The Local Collective for strategy and creative.

What: The branding an out outdoor campaign using unique QR codes for the recent Toronto art fair.

When & Where: The campaign ran in Toronto in the six weeks leading up to the April 13 to 16 art fair, using digital and social assets, as well as OOH and print.

Why: The marketing team behind the Artist Project asked the agency to come up with new visual identity and campaign that would reinvigorate the brand and present the event in a new light.

The typical approach with art fairs and festivals is to highlight the art and the artists, but that makes it difficult to build the brand of the event itself, said Omar Morson creative director, head of design.

“So we chose to solve this challenge by creating something that felt very artful as a solo piece of communication,” he said.

How: The Local Collective created QR codes from words often used by people when reacting to art, such as “fantastic,” “beautiful” and “expressive.” “With QR codes typically being auto-generated, the teams had to carefully handcraft each one until it struck the balance between readability by people and scanners,” said Morson.

The QR codes directed viewers to specific artists, ticket purchases, or various support initiatives, but also stood as works of art in their own right. “Often consumers are used to seeing these codes in the bottom one third of a communication, acting as a sign off or even a URL,” sadi Morson. “By putting so much graphic importance on the code, it caused the desired reaction: More people have interacted with the posters and various communication pieces than we had even hoped for.”

The concept is also part of the broader branded design system that lets the Artists Project brand exist without competition from the artists.

People noticed it was words? “When we did distance testing for legibility, we were surprised how many people commented on the words. In fact, because the QR codes are familiar to most people, seeing the odd “break-ups” of structures made the fact that there are words more noticeable,” said Morson.

David Brown