Using QR Codes in Design in 2021

They're back! Who would have thought? QR codes seemed to be dead and burried when we needed an app to point our mobile device at, and it all become just too difficult. But now, with integration into cameras and COVID-19 bringing QR codes back from the dead, 2021 poses an interesting blend for print and web design thanks to QR codes alone! Back in 2011, QR codes were implemented in stores such as Macy's and Best Buy in the US, however consumers internet speeds were slow and they were riddled with problems. These days, we're checking into places, finding out more information about products and services in a much faster (more efficient) way.

What is a QR code?

A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. In practice, QR codes often contain data for a locator, identifier, or tracker that points to a website or application. A QR code uses four standardized encoding modes (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, and kanji) to store data efficiently; extensions may also be used.

Who is using QR codes?

According to statistics website Statistica, in the US alone, 11 million households will scan a QR code in 2020. You can only imagine that the amount of QR codes and their use will skyrocket in 2021 as it's a safe, hygenic way of finding out information. Furthermore, companies will see this as an opporunity to help market their business and track campaigns.

How can I use a QR code on my flyer or brochure?

A QR code is a perfect solution for restaurants, gyms, stores and cafes to keep track of which people enter their facility, but it can also be used very effectively in print design to redirect epople to your website. Take a flyer or brochure for example, where you have limited space on a physical medium, but now you can allow people to find more information through the use of their mobile device.

What are some clever ways of using QR codes for my business?

Here are a few great ways to use QR codes for your business:

  1. Use the QR code as a business card, to share information about yourself, your employer or business.
  2. Use the QR code to call a phone number.
  3. To allow people to register and gain access to your facility due to COVID-19.
  4. Reveal discount codes and coupons for your store.
  5. Follow or display a social media page.
  6. Add an event to a calendar.
  7. Connect to a stores Wi-Fi or service.
  8. Display your company website and gain more users.
  9. Generate leads, so to scan for a free trial or guide.

There are a mountain of other ways QR codes can be implemented, but that's just the tip of the iceburg.

Needless to say, QR codes are back in a big way in 2021. Embrace them!


find pms pantone colours adobe acrobat pro dc tutorial

Find PMS (Pantone) Colours in a PDF

Need help finding out just what Pantone colours are being used in an Adobe Acrobat PDF document? It might be a bit more simple than you think! You may have a pre-existing document which you don't have Illustrator or InDesign access to, but don't stress, you can still find out what spot colours are being used in a PDF document.

find pms pantone colours adobe acrobat pro dc tutorial


Using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

For this tip, I'm going to be using Adobe's PDF software called Acrobat Pro. This is quite a powerful bit of software by Adobe which allows you to view, edit and prepare PDF documents. Colours sometimes need to be converted to be displayed on a monitor or sent to print correctly. PMS / Pantone Matching System colours are often used by companies as part of their global brand colour scheme. These are colours that are accurately replicated across the board, thanks to Pantone's forumla.

How to find out what colours are being used?

Step 1:

The first step in the process to open up Adobe Acrobat DC Pro where you'll be welcomed with their opening screen. Open up the PDF you'd like to verify the colours of, and then go up to Tools at the top left of the window.

Under the "Protect & Standardize" heading, there's an option called "Print Production". Lets click that option with the PDF we'd like to inspect already open.


Step 2:

At this point, another menu will popup. You can select your PDF if you haven't already at the top tab next to Tools. With the new popup window in view (see below), we can see what colours are being used in the Adobe Acrobat PDF document.

Spot colours Adobe PDF Output Preview

This window shows us all sorts of information, including what Simulation Profile is being used, what to show in terms of bleed and trim marks, but for the purpose of this tutorial what we're interested in is the Seperations part of the window.

In this example, the document has CMYK colours, and three spot plates to be printed. Pantone 425 C, Pantone 307 C and Pantone 2132 C are the three spot colours used in the document, but it also features some CMYK elements as I mentioned.


Toggle Spot Colours in a PDF

You can use your mouse to hover over the document, and the percentage of the colour will appear next to the name. This demonstrates how much of that colour is in use on that spot of the document.


Spot colour PDF output preview toggle

We can also toggle colours, as shown above. This allows us to visually see what colours are being used and in what location. This is important, as we might not want Pantone 425 C (for example), to be a colour in the document, but can't find it's location. So, to toggle the option will allow us to see where it is used.


How to remove Pantone PMS Colours from PDF?

Pantone spot colours can be removed from a document completely, often by using Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign. You can also refrain from printing certain colours of a document using Acrobat.


What is the standard business card size in Australia?

Business card sizes differ around the world, but what exactly is the standard business card size in Australia? You can, of course have custom business card sizes, different diecuts, colours, finishes and so on. But sizing is critical in a good business card design.

What is the size of a business card?

To design the perfect business card to reflect your brand, service or profession is no easy task. They certainly need to look like a professional business card. Some considerations that I make for clients of mine are the style, imagery, font, colours, layout, finish and content.

An Australian business card standard size is 90 mm wide by 55 mm high.

As I mentioned earlier though, you can choose a different size business card. Or, is it better to go with the Australian industry standard size? What reasons are there that nearly every business card is the same dimensions, size and shape? Is it the cost of printing, the choice of the designer?

If you're interested, you can take a look at my freelance graphic design business cards to see what I created for myself. I went with silver foil, a heavy gsm stock, and graphics on one side, whilst keeping it very simple and stylistic on the other side.

What are the different business card sizes around the world?

It's important to know that business cards do differ in size around the world. That's why, when I work with a client, it's important to know where the cards will be distributed. To find out the standard size for American business card size, Europe business card size and, lets face it, every country, take a look at this article I wrote.

Business card dimensions in Australia

Business card sizes in Australia don't have to be standard in size, but the standard size is 90mm wide by 55mm high (9cm x 5.5cm) with a 3mm bleed for printing. This size allows information to be easily read yet also means the card will conveniently fit in standard wallets and business card holders in Australia.

Melbourne Business Card Printing

Because I'm based in Melbourne, I often use printers in Melbourne to print business cards. I often use Simprint Digital to print business cards for clients. I have also used Moo to print business cards – get in contact with me for 20% off you first purchase!


Chris Koch Business Card Melbourne 2020

Business Card Design - Updated 2020

Think print is dead? Think again! I've updated my business cards for 2020, and I thought I'd show you what I've come up with. The aim, for me, is to hand these out locally to friends, family and prospective clients in and around Melbourne. And, just to make things interesting, I've done them a little differently this time.


Business Cards of the past

I've had business cards in the past – many times. I've run out of them, had too many, changed the design (and size) of them, and so on. But, that's the great thing about business cards is that they're meant to be disposable. Hand them out, promote yourself, show your business or service off. They're designed to be a marketing tool and, yes, I still hand them out to this very day with some great feedback. I tend to opt for high quality, custom cards, because I think it's quality over quantity. However, that's more my way of marketing my business. Every business is different. I've decided to make a few changes to my cards for 2020 to further create a talking point yet, most importantly, be a great keepsake for potential clients. Should you leave with a point of contact, or just leave? I know what I'd rather!

So, what have I changed for 2020?

This year, what I've done is create my logo in silver foil. Why? I think it's a bit of brand evolution for me, a little bit more daring and playful. It's a great talking point too – people who've viewed them have already tilted the card to see the different light that it reflects. I'm not saying that a foil, whether it be silver or gold, is a must (I have matte black business cards too) but it certainly adds an extra interest to the card, especially considering that 9 of the 10 variations have abstract art that I've made featured on the card.

What I've retained is the heavy, high GSM stock of the card. They feel absolutely incredible. Soft, yet very strong and durable. And, to compliment (or contrast, I should say) the silver foil of my company logo, I've gone for a matte finish.


Why have I changed my business cards this year (2020)?

The reason why I've got so many variations for the cards, is because it's 2020 (new year, new me, etc) but secretly because the viewer will often get to choose the card they like the best. I think it's good to have choice, and it's also great to have feedback on your work all at the same time. But because my business cards are such a talking point, it encourages conversation. It allows me to explain what I've created on the card, why I've done it a certain way, and so on. Everyone is talking digital, and don't get me wrong, digital is great. However, print genuinely card get people talking. My new business cards are an example of that.

Business Card Design 2020 Print Design


I love the silver foil I've used on my new business cards. They always look different, they're unique and, because people aren't using business cards as much any more (why not?!), they're even more of a talking point than they were in the past.

Modern Business Card Design 2020 Silver Foil


So, if you've had business cards in the past and you think – yes! This year, 2020, I need new business cards, then lets hear from you and make it happen.

Feel free to add any feedback about the cards in the comment section below, because as always, I'd love to hear your feedback about them.

protein supplement design 3d render graphic label

Supplement Label Designs and Requirements

Now that I’ve designed for quite a few supplement companies, I’ve got a good grasp on what’s required for supplement label design, how it can be applied on packaging, marketing features and elements, hitting key fitness demographics, and so on. Supplement design, whether it be whey protein powder, a fat burner, casein, (the list goes on doesn’t it?!), is a super competitive industry. And, the clients I’ve had requesting their brand on supplement labels has ranged from start-up entrepreneurs, hobbyist, personal trainers, to larger, more established companies.

Design Requirements

First things first, you need to know what type of products you want to sell. As I mentioned, (and if you’re reading this article you’re bound to be interested in all things supplements), there’s so many different types of supplements in the fitness industry. So, knowing what you want to sell is critical, because more often than not, that will dictate the size of the packaging required. Furthermore, the quantities of protein (for example) generally comes in quite a number of different sizes, in different types of packaging. Some are zip locked, some are in tubs and some in sachets.

Nutrition Information and labels

When a food product is sold to the public, generally a nutrition label is required to go on the product packaging or label. I’m specifically going to talk about Australia and the United States here, and say that both countries do require this information.

Supplement label logo design packaging Even stylistically, the nutrition information needs to be designed in a legible way. This can be quite complicated, so please refer to some of these websites which may help:

Australia Food Labelling

Food Standards Australia Nutrition Information Panels

Food Standards Australia Nutrition Information User Guide

Australia Made Logo Use

United States Food Labeling

FDA Dietary Supplement Labeling Guide

FDA Nutrition Labeling


Often the Nutrition Information will be supplied to me by the client. It is their duty to supply the correct information and guidelines for me to complete.

Using a Template Maker

A template maker for supplement design is often a really cheap, inefficient way of doing business. Calculating the costs involved in using a template maker, how often it’s been used by other companies all around the world, legalities, specification sizes and so on, is extremely risky. It would also be a time where, if you find yourself going down this route in business (in general), you might need to ask if you can afford to run a business. A template maker, whilst useful for some things, would be extremely risky.

Let’s talk about custom supplement label design

Ok, onto the fun stuff! Custom supplement label design, something I specialise in, is what I know best. We have some key areas to focus on here, and they include logo design, software, target demographic, style, and printing types / substrates.


Logo Design for Supplement Companies

I’ll talk about target demographics a little bit later on in the article, but logo design is critical to the success of a brand. So much design aesthetic stems from a logo design. There’s so much consideration that needs to take place and if you’re an experienced Graphic Designer then you’d recognise what has the ability to work and what doesn’t. So, please read further down the article where I talk about appealing to a target audience, because that pertains to logo design too.

One of my favourite logos I’ve created is for Nitracore, a more hardcore style supplement brand. I created custom type for the company specifically directed to appeal to their target audience.

I’ve also created a logo for Megathom, Argyle Nutrition, Monster Performance, Primo Performance and a few more companies.



Software to design supplement labels

Generally, labels I design for clients are created in Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign or Adobe Photoshop. However, it’s usually a combination of two or three of those. Consideration of size of label, resources (like photos, the company logo, and so on), and quantity are assessed. Adobe Illustrator is great for label design (and company logo design for that matter), because of its sizing (un)restrictions. The majority of print based work I create for labels is created in Illustrator. InDesign is really useful for larger quantities of work, so if you have a lot of labels to be created in many variations, this could be my choice of software. Photoshop is generally better to make edits to photos and photo manipulation, mocking up products and so on.

Speaking of mocking up products, this is something a lot of clients end up requesting for their fitness business. To show photo quality renders to customers, without the use of actually hiring a photographer, the perfect setting, and so on, is so appealing. You can also rotate the product on different angles, so showing it on a gym floor, or presenting it in a nice, natural (or in some cases, really abstract and stylistic ways) is so engaging. I generally use Cinema 4D – one of the most powerful 3D rendering programs in the world – to create the product renders.

protein supplement design 3d render graphic labelDesigning appealing labels for customers

Supplement labels are no different to most other print-based graphic design work. Considerations for who your target audience should be at the forefront of your mind. For me, that’s certainly the case. Identifying who your customer is could involve the following:


  • Location of the customer. This could be as specific as your local area, state, country, multiple countries and so on. Even with the internet, it’s important to realise who are typically visiting your website.
  • Physical abilities of your customer. Are they just starting out in fitness? Is it their hobby? Are they semi-professional? Professional athletes?
  • Age of your customer. Younger demographic? Older?
  • Gender specific product or a skew towards a certain gender.
  • Your main competition. Are their labels similar to yours? How can you differentiate yourself from the competition?
  • Cost of your product relative to the competition. This is so important, because often consumers will look at your product side by side with another, similar product. If their protein powder looks and feels more expensive, that may mean that they opt for their product, or end up using yours because it in fact looks and feels cheaper.


Often clients will approach me and state that they want their product to appeal to everyone. And yes, that would be fantastic! However, it’s never the case.

If we look at a company like Optimum Nutrition, for example, who are iconic with their label designs, they’ve made their labels appear expensive, the typography used demonstrates their product is more geared towards hobby to semi-professional athletes, at a mid-range demographic and a slight skew towards males. With all of that considered, the price point for a brand like Optimum Nutrition is generally more expensive, and that’s because of their more luxurious look. Now, they also have the backing of reputation, too.

Supplement Packaging, Bottles, Sachets (etc).

After the logo and supplement label is designed, often clients will print their labels onto tubs, bottles and sachets depending on the sizes of their products. There’s such a wide range of options in regards to printing.

A few options could be:

  • Matte / Glossy Paper
  • Silver Metallic Paper, sometimes with a white underprint.
  • White Film BOPP Polypropylene which is great because it’s waterproof and tearproof
  • Clear Film BOPP Polypropylene
  • Chrome Film BOPP Polypropylene

There’s a range of costs involved in regards to quantities, types of print, quality, paper and so on. They’re best discussed on a case-by-case situation.

Protein supplement 3d render design label

So that’s about all for supplement label design in terms of a general guide. I hope it’s helped give you a better understanding of what’s required. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Exhibition Space Design and Signage

Successful exhibition and event signage, and signage in general, can be a powerful tool in marketing your business at a trade show. The cost may be substantial because of the large amount of material used to produce the signage, however this would (most likely) be offset by the exposure you would gain from a successful marketing campaign.

Designing Exhibition and Event Signage for Melbourne Businesses

I’ve created exhibition signage for several companies, but two companies in particular spring to mind – both located in Melbourne. The printing process was undertaken by local companies, too, which made it easy to work in conjunction with. They also assisted with the construction of the banners themselves. The reason why that’s an asset to the process is that large format printing can be a somewhat difficult operation.

Working with the exhibition space

There’s plenty of factors that should be considered, including location of exhibition, booth location, physical space, visibility, lighting and mood of the exhibition itself. It’s important to have a stand that factors in all of those considerations. For example, demographic plays an important factor in the design of the signage because as a promotional tool, you want the target audience to appeal to what you have on display.

Signage render for Radins exhbition space

Signage design considerations

Viewable Angles

When working on the design for signage at exhibition spaces, it’s important to consider viewing angles. At what angles on a horizontal plane can the artwork be viewed? Will signage be cut off or obscured by additional, manmade elements such as tables, stools and chairs? How can we maximise the brand exposure on the signage itself? The logo of the business should be viewable as practically as possible.

Signage for Melbourne exhibition custom design
Signage created for IFS World exhbition space

Text and Content

Furthermore, something I always consider is average human height. When you think about signage within a booth, especially with readable elements such as text or iconography, what’s the ideal range to view the content? And, will the content be obscured by other people. Hierarchy of text also plays a role in this case, as perhaps the heading should be the reading element from a far, and subsequent text should be read up close.

Graphics and Artwork

In terms of the artwork itself that is displayed on the signage, a lot of companies want as many vibrant colours as possible to highlight their booth. This might, in fact, draw eyes to your booth, but will it be for the right reasons? You always want your branding material to reflect your product or service.

Marketing your graphics towards your specific target audience is proven to be the best way to sell product / service. Bentley, an expensive automotive manufacturer, use subtle monochromatic tones to sell their premium product. It adds to the depth and quality of their product. And, rightly so. It’s one of the most expensive cars in the world. Toyota, on the other hand, tend to use a lot more colour with a lot more vibrancy to make their product appeal to a broader, cheaper target demographic.


Additional design assets for a successful marketing campaign

Of course, it’s important to remember the other assets in conjunction with your exhibition booth signage, such as a brochure showcasing your product or service, perhaps a flyer to quickly show customers what you offer, and business cards to introduce yourself and employees. Pull-up banners are also a great way of capturing the attention of viewers with short, sharp messages or visuals. All these types of touchpoints are important to impressing potential customers. Why? Because, customers love to see professionalism, quality and most importantly be able to trust the business.