Barcodes That Make You Smile

You’ve heard of vanity license plates; now think of vanity barcodes. In the U.S., Vanity Barcodes, a business started by Reuben and Yael Miller of Miller Creative in New Jersey, has turned these boring UPC codes into decorative elements. They have a number of barcode designs in stock or will customize one to your preference.

The idea of disguising this inventory management device into something else is believed to have originated in Japan with Design Barcode in 2004. The agency made the barcodes an integral part of the packaging design, tying it into the brand or cleverly building the stripes and digits into a line drawn picture.

As simple as this concept may seem, it’s not one that designers should try on their own. As both Vanity Barcodes and Design Barcode emphasize every manipulated barcode has to be thoroughly tested to make sure it gives accurate readings when passed through a retail scanner.