Thoughts and opinions on branding.

Hobo Symbols QR Codes

08:38 BST, 05 August 2011


I’ve long been a fan of Hobo symbols. The idea of a secret code which is scratched in to the surroundings for the benefit of the next Hobo to come along is fascinating.

The symbols were essentially informative, giving other Hobos who know the code a heads-up as to what they can expect in the area/building/house the code has been written on. They ranged from ‘talk religion get food’ to ‘can sleep in barn’ to ‘bad dog’. The symbols were literal so it would be difficult to just guess the meaning without knowing the code, which of course is the point.

For years now I have been wondering how I could bring back the idea of Hobo symbols. Did I use stencilling, do I use the old symbols and educate people, do I create a new set of symbols, what information do I want to give? Well these guys have come up with an interesting use for QR Codes which pick up on the idea of Hobo Symbols but use the technology around today. They have created a range of QR Codes as stencils which can be printed by anyone and applied to whatever building you like. They have kept some of the old sayings but also have new ones such as ‘strong phone signal’ and ‘speed trap’.

This is a very interesting idea,¬†admittedly¬†with some flaws such as the fact that the code isn’t secret as the original Hobo symbols were (although I guess without a QR code reader they are useless). I would love to see these popping up on the sides of buildings, so lets see how many we find.