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Talkable Barcodes (Yes, Barcodes)

A few weeks ago I posted a super-short summary of a presentation I did with Geno Church on “Bringing SEXY back to Offline Word of Mouth.” In this presentation we shared thoughts on creating talkable brands by earning opinions from customers at every touchpoint.

We ranted how the most talkable brands take common customer touchpoints and make them uncommon… uncommonly talkable. Since anything a customer can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell is a touchpoint, customer touchpoints are EVERYWHERE. Which means, word of mouth opportunities are everywhere.

Case in point, the common UPC. Many of us know this as the generic barcode but we all know barcodes are on nearly every product we buy. Yet, they all look the same.



There’s an emerging trend to take the common UPC and make it uncommon. Uncommonly talkable.

Sixpoint Brewery puts the Statue of Liberty on the barcodes of its canned beers.

Juicy Juice adds bubbles to the barcodes on its packaging.

Verdi Olives adds an Olive Tree to its barcodes.

And… Vanity Barcodes and Design Barcode have many more ideas on making barcodes talkable.

Like I ranted in my presentation… marketers do not decide what gets talked about, people decide. And since people make that decision, it’s up to marketers to give people something to talk about at every customer touchpoint.

If the common barcode can be made talkable, just think how many other common touchpoints can be made talkable. So, what touchpoints can your business make interesting to get customers interested?

blog post inspiration | Wall Street Journal article (June 22, 2011)


  • Al PIttampalli says:

    Really great stuff. It’s amazing how we consumers can talk about the most silly, trivial things sometimes (even barcodes). But that’s our prerogative, and marketers can’t control what is discussed. I like you’re approach.

  • Mike Brewer says:


    Grappling with QR – at what point do you think this becomes invasive and therefore silent or invisible?


  • johnmoore says:

    Mike … I’m not convinced QR codes will catch-on. Right now, too many QR codes appear with copy that explains what it is and how to use it for the “ungeeked.” That’s a sign QR codes are far from crossing the so-called chasm. Even the “geekiest” bleeding edge people I know rarely, if ever, use QR codes.

    I’m not sure the problem QR codes solve for is enough of a problem for people to use QR codes. Sure, it’s convenient to have a shortcut to a webpage … not sure it’s too inconvenient for someone to type in the URL or perhaps find it through a google search instead of using a QR code.

    In many ways, QR codes feel like today’s version of the CueCat. CueCat? Google it.

  • […] The folks at Brand Autopsy provide a few really cool examples that underscore a fairly important point: never miss an opportunity to make the most out of a customer touch point. Even if that touch point happens to be something as simple as a barcode: Talkable Barcodes (Yes, Barcodes) […]

  • […] famous words of Bonnie Raitt, let’s give ‘em something to talk about. How about … barcodes? Brand Autopsy notes that a recent trend among brands is to customize their barcodes, making them “uncommonly […]