How should a brand interact with its customers?

We’ve all seen the images resembling mini barcodes within magazine and newspaper articles, advertisments and even on product labels.  These are referred to as QR (Quick Response) Codes.  The brief history of this tool starts in the auto industry as a way to track parts in vehicle manufacturing.  These codes can store URLs to web pages, send messages to users, or add a contact to their mobile device.

Pongr is a new company which utilizes mobile image recognition technology and social media network connections.  Users can snap images of their favorite products and submit them to earn points that can be redeemed for prizes such as discounts on products or free merchandise.

While these two applications are being used similarly in brand marketing campaigns, there are very distinct differences as well as pros and cons.

QR Code Pro:  unlimited number of code designs.
QR Code Con:  limits user to be taken to location(s) that brand determines

Pongr Pro:  allows users to be creative with their submissions and share within social networks in real-time.
Pongr Con:  rewarding loyalty with incentives can be dangerous.  If the incentives stop or slow, so may the loyalty.

Personally, I see QR Codes moving more toward the logistics, supply chain and high-level marketing aspects of a brand or product.  With Pongr, you can put the brand, its user and its user’s friends in the same room and let them interact.  Through the use of social networks, incentives and creativity, Pongr allows a user to really advocate for a brand and product.

Take a look at the lastest article in Fast Company (which by the way, if you’re interested in new technology, products or business ideas, you should be reading).  The interview is with Pongr President, Jamie Thompson.