The Drake Advantage: Your Logo Gets an F

by Earl of Hurl on September 2, 2010

This logo has been floating around in our backyard for a few weeks now, and it would be a travesty if we didn’t share it on YLMMB.

Drake University recently launched its new Drake Advantage marketing campaign, along with a logo sure to make potential students feel secure in their decision:

Drake Advantage logo

Brilliantly, it’s the first thing that greets visitors to the admissions page.

Drake Advantage logo 2

Read more about how they arrived at this design (thanks to some focus testing) in this Des Moines Register entry.


Categories: Education, Favorite Bad Logos

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy September 2, 2010

Hey, a D+ is a passing grade.

Nothing wrong with just squeaking by.


Molly@Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce September 2, 2010

I teach at a college and frankly I can’t imagine a worse logo. Drake has made some questionable curricular decisions. Perhaps they have gone off the deep end.


Margie September 2, 2010

Guess what?
ITS NOT A LOGO. Its a MARK that plays off the well-established Drake “D”, and identifies the recruitment campaign. Good try though.
If you knew what the concept of the campaign actually meant, you would not be bashing it. The campaign is solid. You need to not take it out of context like you have done.


Jo September 3, 2010

You shouldn’t have to do a load of research for a logo or device like this to make sense! Face it this is pretty embarrassing. Graphically not bad but the connotations are – crap grades, and yes pregnancy tests. ‘Come to our university and get up the duff then flunk out.’
Good design practice means thinking about all the possible connotations!!

PS. a ‘mark’?? are you from the middle ages or something?!


HMc September 8, 2010

If you have to explain a concept, it has failed … or gotten a D+. Sorry, Mary, not enough for a lot of higher ed marketers who may want to empathize.


Protoguy October 13, 2010

If we don’t get “the concept of the campaign” by looking at the logo. It failed. If we have to find out what it means to understand it, it fails. If the unintended message a logo sends is negative, for whatever reason, it fails. Cry some moar. It’ll help us understand how important it is.


Brandon September 2, 2010

so when students and parents come to the website and see a big D+ staring them in the face from a potential university, are you going to get mad at them for taking it out of context? It is in fact a logo, and it is in fact a silly one that could have used an iota of outside opinion. Don’t get upset because of it’s own poor connotations. I’m sure the campaign is nothing but brilliant, but it is being poorly represented.


Neil September 2, 2010

The + also makes me think of a positive pregnancy test


Andy September 3, 2010

Margie, one of the first rules of marketing is that audience perception is reality… That’s one of the things I learned when I got my advertising & marketing degree from Drake. At the moment, I’m a little ashamed to admit that! Good God Drake, how does this make it through a creative team without somebody speaking up. If you were trying to be cute, you missed.. If not, somebody was asleep at the wheel. Either way, one thing I have learned in my relatively successful marketing career is it’s never too late to pull the plug on a lousy idea. Yank it!!


John September 3, 2010

I guess that if someone like me, who has a BA and an MPA from Drake University, can not see the logic in the “context of the campaign”, then perhaps we shouldn’t expect prospective students to see it either.

I hate to tell you, but I don’t think that the “Well Established D” is as recognized as you think it is.

I love how they rationalize that 3/4 of the high school students saw the slogan as “something that made me look twice”. I’m sure a crack pipe would have made them look twice too. Neither is probably the image that a world class university wants to portray.


braaad September 3, 2010

God this is embarrassing. I went to Drake and although I didn’t study graphic design, it’s what I do now professionally. Even if you’re not a pro, however, the negative connotations of this ahem, “mark” are instantly recognizable. You have to wonder how this ever made it out of their marketing department.

In the meantime another commenter gave me an idea- maybe I can just change the education section on my resume to Duke.


David September 3, 2010

Honestly, anyone who makes a definitive judgment about anything on the basis of a mark like “D+” is woefully shallow. For what it’s worth, my teenage son laughed when I showed it to him tonight, then asked me if I knew anything about Drake. Then he yanked out his Droid and started surfing Drake’s website. If my kid’s response is indicative of the power of this logo, or campaign, or ad, or whatever it is…it seems to be working. We’re talking about Drake in our house tonight for the first time ever. I think they call this market segmentation (and I don’t have a degree in marketing).


A Marketing Guy September 3, 2010


Woefully shallow? People make snap judgments based off much more subtle visual cues all of the time.

For what it’s worth, your son being intrigued by this and jumping out to the Drake website on his Droid, doesn’t validate this campaign as effective.

An effective campaign would have delivered a message that intrigued your son to visit the site, and start a conversation about Drake between the two of you. But it would have also portrayed the University in a positive manner.


An Unamused Alumnus September 4, 2010



Derp October 6, 2010

Well if it made your son look it up on his Droid it must be a good thing. My goodness gracious. His Droid!

Advertising is pretty firmly ensconced in the fact that humans are inherently shallow creatures. And that includes you and your preciously intellectual son who looks things up on his Droid. If a company conjures up a profoundly stupid logo, they can expect to be ridiculed and possibly lose business. I know I wouldn’t want to go to a university that proudly associates itself with a “D+”. First impressions are everything, and you make them, yourself, like it or not. It’s time to face reality, champ, and stop masquerading as some higher intellectual just because you have a confounding ability to view retarded decisions as positive things.


Protoguy October 13, 2010

Your story also illustrates a pretty big fallacy. Just because you got a positive reaction from the one person you showed it to doesn’t mean it’s a good logo, sends the right message or that you even interpreted the response right. He’s your son, which throws a ton of bias on the entire exercise. He laughed. Not really a good first response to begin with.

A school that’s too dim to realize “D+” i.e., barely passing, i.e., we’ll teach you to do the bare minimum, is not a good message to send isn’t going to attract people. Even if they don’t see the problem, that’s kind of a dumb message to send. To obstinately defend said dumb message and blame the reader, well that pretty much sinks it completely.


dennis whelan September 3, 2010

Hey didn’t Tommy Boy get a D+ to graduate from college. He did miss the one question by picking Herbie Hancock as one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Great movie.


Jim September 3, 2010

Is this the same marketing firm that came up with the fantastic fast food campaign: “fast food minus the wait” with the “mark” “F-”??


An Amused Grad September 3, 2010

I just had to shake my head when I saw this.

I wonder if it is the same people that came up with the Drake Athletic Slogan a few years ago: “Polish the D”.

Seems to me all they did here was Tarnish the D.


Viceroy of Vomit September 3, 2010

Anybody want to help translate the bullshit in their press release on the matter? (Dropped way late on a Friday night before a holiday weekend, BTW).


An Unamused Alumnus September 4, 2010

The bullshit in the press release is that they spend half the time discussing how the “irony” is supposed to target a specific type of high school student, and half the time celebrating their research showing 97% positive response from students. I think the type of high school students they are aiming for are the ones that…go to high school. Its a wide net.


Viceroy of Vomit September 9, 2010

Progress! (Pulled the logo from the admissions website.)


Oran Parker September 9, 2010

They could have avoided this whole thing by simply saying it out loud…
“D Plus. Hmmm. I wonder… would anyone think that this site has something to do with the quality of our grades?”

I’m not going to rip on this too bad, but I do think pulling it was a good idea. And I definitely agree with whoever said they should have gotten outside input. You can’t design in a microcosm. It’s really important to think about audience perception.


Kelly October 26, 2010

I missed this when it happend, but I’m glad I’m not the only Drake Alum who’s facepalming. Painful.


Barfer Shawn December 31, 2010

Hey, 66%+ of college students fail out or quit, Right, Maybe they’re just giving in to the reality, that chances are . . .


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