Friday, August 19, 2011

Affinity groups and QR Codes: A fashion statement

Affinity groups often identify themselves through merchandise, such as a sports fan wearing a team jersey or a Star Wars® fanatic wearing a hat with the words "May the force be with you." When it comes to affinity group fashions, one organization is banking on its creative use of QR (quick response) codes.

According to an blog article written by Andrew Gossen, Senior Director for Social Media Strategy in the Division of Alumni Affairs & Development at Cornell University, the higher education institution is manipulating QR codes to create QR code clothing for purchase by alumni returning for reunion. Reunion represents a tremendous opportunity for Cornell to capitalize on alumni affinity to the institution, as well as on numerous affinity groups within the university, and improve the bottom line with merchandise sales and other purchases related to Reunion weekend.

Cornell brings together technology and affinity through a design process described in the post. Gossen includes two contrasting photos of reunion t-shirts, one of last year's black-and-white QR code design and this year's colored QR code design with an imbedded iconic campus image. Gossen asks, "Which of these t-shirts would you rather wear?"

As a Cornell alumna I can see myself actually opening up my wallet for this year's choice. It seems many of my fellow Cornellians agree. "Thanks to these options, our marketing collateral appealed to alumni more than last year's merchandise," Gossen wrote.

Thanks to the clever design, more folks are promoting Cornell, not only by wearing a t-shirt to show off their Cornell affinity but also via the QR code itself. Scanning the QR code with a smart phone or other compatible device leads to Cornell’s Reunion mobile website that provides promotional information about returning to campus.

The blog article includes additional QR code images and instructions on how the QR code modifications are done at Cornell.

What forward-looking methods are you using with QR codes to build or leverage affinity?
Brenda Dow is a specialist in Marketing, Advancement, and Business Development. She holds degrees in communications and human resources management, and blogs about affinities and affinity related activities at

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