Tag, You're It!

Do you like the idea of QR Codes but find them a bit "clunky" and challenging to incorporate into your brand look? Microsoft (of all companies) came up with a much more aesthetically pleasing bar code that is poised to quickly replace today's QR Codes (see our post about QR codes). It's simply called a "Tag". When you scan a Tag using the free Tag Reader app on your mobile phone, it will automatically open a webpage (for example: a video, product info & reviews, promotions, time-sensitive discounts, etc.), add a contact to your address book, display a message, or dial a number. Tag is a step up from a QR code, a next-generation solution for connecting objects in the real world to mobile web. Tag is free to create (and read, of course) and is also fully customizable.

Tags have a cloud-based back-end that gives you access to data that isn't available with earlier QR codes. Tags provide you with reports on how frequently and where your Tags are being scanned by your prospective customers. Tags also allow dynamic updates, unlike other codes that are only associated with a single URL. This is a very exciting feature, because it allows you to reuse your campaign materials. For example, if a potential customer stumbles on a direct mail piece you sent out with a Tag and scans it long after a particular promotion is finished, they will be redirected to a current promotion that is linked to that same Tag.

Tags can be updated as often as you wish to point to new websites. How great is that? Tags can do that because they only hold a location of a URL from which they then retrieve the data you stored. While this is great, we can't help but wonder about the possible security issues.  This could be a hacker's dream heist. Somebody could gain access to your Tag account and redirect it to their own malicious web page. Not good. So if you do set up a Tag, keep an eye on it and check it every once in a while to make sure it still points where you intended and not to the bad guys.

Tag's unique and less complicated design (rows of triangles or dots) allows for much smaller sizing and is read faster and more accurately than QR codes. It is also the first mobile bar code that is in color as opposed to just black & white. What is especially dear to our graphic designer heart is that you can fully customize its look. Actually it already looks pretty sleek, but you can customize Tags to your brand image for that much desired consistency. You can overlay a Tag graphic over any existing artwork - for example, your company's logo, an illustration, or a photograph. You can even design completely custom and unique Tags from scratch, as long as you follow certain guidelines to keep it readable.

You can put Tags on your product packaging, offline advertisements (magazine ads, posters, billboards), product shelves, your business card and other marketing materials. The possibilities are endless. Scanned Tags are automatically saved, so your customers will be able to revisit your information and also share it with others.  So start Tagging!

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