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Designers bring barcodes back for business

Wednesday, 16 January 2008
By Print 21 Online Article

Barcodes are often overlooked by all except those scanning them at the cash register. But three determined groups, GS1, Natcoll and Pride in Print have changed this perception by creating a competition encouraging young designers to take barcodes seriously.

Conceived by Bruce Pollock, South Island area manager of GS1, the competition promoted the message that holistic design must not only look good, but also maintain the identity and purpose of the barcode as a stock-taking necessity.

"Rather than play the policeman and try to enforce a conventional application of the standards, we’re trying to be creative and positive and send out the message that you can use colour and innovation to make the barcode an interesting and attractive part of a total graphical presentation," said Owen Dance, technical consultant at GS1.

Natcoll tutors marked the entries received in the competition, then GS1 technically assessed the bar codes for compliance. After this, the Natcoll tutors selected a shortlist based on the design merits of those entries whose barcodes were technically sound. Finally, the top entries were sent to Fraser Gardyne, assistant convenor of judges for the New Zealand Pride in Print Awards.

Pride In Print Awards manager, Sue Archibald, said the competition was a step forward for the Pride In Print concept. "Printers and designers come under pressure to ensure barcodes are accurate. Supermarkets in particular are being really fussy and are looking to refuse product that fails to comply, with huge implications for customers," she said.

An unforeseen development from the competition is that GS1’s success has attracted international interest in doing the same thing. Owen Dance said GS1 Australia is keen on doing something similar and he has been asked to do a report for the GS1 General Assembly that will be held in Croatia next March.

"My expectation is that several countries will take up the concept eventually. It is good to see New Zealand leading the field internationally," he said.

Pictured:  Dave Herbert (right) receives his award from GS1 chief executive Peter Stevens (left).

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