Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Zebras and measles on toast

I had a pretty weird experience yesterday, but it has opened my mind up to a whole new realm of possibilities for the world as I know it. I encountered a company that sell barcodes.

YEAH! Sell barcodes? If I was the sort of person that used abbreviations I might say 'wtf' at this point and revel in the few seconds that had saved me. Sell barcodes? To me, this is amazing.

It had never occurred to me in the month of afternoons that barcodes were something you could possibly be in the market for. Like you might be staring at the label on the new peanut butter you're selling, and think 'You know what this label needs? A tiny stripy box. Then, this peanut butter will fly off the shelves.' So you get on the interphone and text up some sales teams and all of a sudden there's someone sitting in front of you with a range of barcodes for you to choose from...

Do you prefer the thin bars or the thick bars, madam?
Would you like wiggly or straight lines?
Have you considered mauve?

How bored and pissed off must the designer for that company be when he got the job and found out exactly what his job description was.

"So, welcome to BarCodes R Us."
"Thanks, is this my desk?"
"Yes, and this is your ruler and black pen...get going."
"Great, I've got some brilliant ideas...I'm thinking purple, I'm thinking swirls..."
"We just like black and white mainly."
"Oh...ok, well, that's cool. People have done some lovely work in monochrome in the past. I can work with that. Maybe some sketching and some shading..."
"We just like straight lines mainly."
"Oh...ok, well, that's cool. There's a lot we can do there, throw in some horizontals and some short lines shooting out from the centre, maybe get a labyrinth thing going on..."
"No. I really don't think you're getting this, we just like up and down lines."
"It's really quite simple..."
"You look sad?"
"I just..."
"Tell you what, why don't you play around with the thickness?"
"Yeah, go on. I'll throw you a bone."

Are there barcode awards for most creative use of millimetres?

Is there an etiquette to bar code construction?

Has anyone ever barcoded a zebra?

Are barcodes like finger prints?

So many questions for the humble bar code. These rectangles of bi-tonal glory are one of the fundamental building blocks of retail as we know it, but how often do we stop to appreciate them?

Almost never. So this blog is dedicated to barcodes. And all those who sail in them.

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