We’ve been posting for years now about the successes we’ve enjoyed with our client work: unveiling exciting new identities, showing off interesting design collateral, and sharing the various accolades we’ve received. Typically, it’s how the stories play out at Oxide.

However, we’re not too proud to admit that sometimes we fail to create something that our clients are truly happy with. As infrequent as this is, it’s still hard to accept. Our end goal is always a happy client, but we also care deeply about creating effective design. We do our best to collect the necessary information, do the research required, and spend an appropriate amount of time concepting. All so that we that we can hopefully create design work that helps our client stand out. Unfortunately, that does not always guarantee that our client will love the solution(s) we provide them.

Houck explorationHouck’s logo history and internal exploration (designed by Houck)

It’s been a few years now since Houck hired us to design a new logo for their transit advertising business. This was a fairly unique situation because the team at Houck included graphic designers. As a design firm, we’ve learned over the years that designing for yourself is oftentimes much harder than designing for others. That’s the situation Houck was in. They had already internally gone down a variety of paths that were viable options, but were unable to land on something they were excited about. That’s when they turned to us.

Houck logo optionsHouck logo options (designed by Oxide)

At the time, we were working with Metro on their rebrand. Houck is and was Metro’s advertising partner. Impressed with our work, they decided it was time to let someone else take a stab at their identity materials. With a history of almost 100 years and a footprint across the Midwest, Houck is a big deal in the industry. It was an honor for them to let us take a shot at finding something that would meet their needs.

Houck logoAward-winning Houck logo concept
(designed by Oxide)

Like any other project, we started by having the decision makers complete a questionnaire. This allowed us to get some insight on who they were and what they do beyond the surface level. We then had Houck collect a variety of images that they felt painted a good picture of what they were looking for both conceptually and visually. Generally, the directions that arose centered around movement, roadways, and their history.

We created a variety of options we were really proud of, but which simply did not resonate with them. Including one option that has even been recognized in a couple of design competitions. With Houck’s input, we tweaked one of our concepts in an attempt to find a solution they were happy with. Sadly, we were unable to reach that solution.

Houck finalHouck’s final logo (designed by Houck)

Eventually, they added our contributions to the mix and went back to their internal team to complete the process. In the end, if nothing else, I really think that we helped them clarify what they were looking for in a logo, which then allowed them to arrive at a solution internally that they were really excited about. We would have loved to have been able to find that solution for them, but, as the title of this post goes, you can’t win them all.