Lately, companies are loosening up when it comes to the look of the parallel lines in the standard bar code, and more playful product codes are starting to show up on store shelves. The bar code on this package of Verdi olives harks back to the product's origin. Scroll through our gallery for a sample of the range of "vanity bar codes" currently showing up on packaging or being sold by bar code design firms.
Caption byEric Smalley
/ Photo by Vanity Barcodes and Miller Creative
The bar code on this package of Melitta coffee filters takes the form of a bamboo grove.
Most creative bar codes use the vertical lines as elements of an interesting design rather than simply putting a pretty frame around the code. The bar codes on these Japanese hair care products serve as shading for line drawings of women's hair.
Bar code as toothbrush. If we consumers, not to mention cashiers the world over, have to look at these black-and-white graphics all the time, they can at least be interesting. Anything beats having prison bars called to mind every time you pick up a loaf of bread.
Bar code as tissue box. As The Wall Street Journal points out in a recent feature on vanity bar codes, adding one can be expensive because new packaging is needed. Nestle has gradually included vanity bar codes when redesigning packaging or launching new products.