10 Creative Bar Code Designs [PICS]

On this day in 1974, Clyde Dawson made history as the first consumer to buy a product that had been scanned into a till by its Universal Product Code. The product was a $0.67 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum purchased at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The UPC went on to become more commonly known as a “bar code.”

Now ubiquitous in the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, the bar code has not changed visibly in the past three decades — a boring monotone patch around which packaging designers must maneuver. Many don’t realize, however, that as long as a bar code is still scannable, you can have tons of fun with creative designs. Although popular in Japan, custom bar codes for product packaging haven’t gone significantly mainstream in the west, except for a few notable examples, such as Amazon’s Kindle packaging.

We’d like to see more bar code creativity, so to celebrate the UPC’s birthday, we’re taking a look at 10 brilliant designs from experts in the designer bar code field — Japanese company Design Barcode and New Jersey-based branding and packaging design agency Miller Creative‘s Vanity Barcodes.

1. Beer Pouring

In this design, we especially love the numbers pouring out of the bottle.

2. Piano

This clever bar code’s black and white bars extend to form piano keys.

3. Noodles

Add chopsticks and you have noodles!

4. Camera

This would make a great graphic for photography product packaging.

5. Sneakers

By rotating the bar code and adding eyelets, you get laces and sneakers.

6. Rain Cloud

This gorgeous design imagines the bars as rain.

7. Surfer

Hang ten!

8. Mixtape

The iconic tape cassette becomes a music-themed bar code.

9. Cup

The simple addition of a drinking straw and tapered edges instantly transforms a bar code into a beverage.

10. Umbrella

We end the gallery on another rain-themed design. “Water” pelts the top of a classic umbrella.

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