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Nakamoto Forestry: Website Rebrand and UX/​UI Redesign 

Nakamo­to Forestry North Amer­i­ca is the US’s largest dis­trib­u­tor of Yak­isu­gi, a cypress plank prod­uct that has under­gone a tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese preser­v­a­tive heat treat­ment and is sought after by archi­tects and design­ers. Yak­isu­gi is typ­i­cal­ly used for inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or wall cladding and designed to lim­it maintenance. 

Nakamo­to Forestry didn’t have a clear iden­ti­ty to lean on and they strug­gled to main­tain qual­i­ty leads with­in a con­vo­lut­ed land­scape. Their brand need­ed to cap­ture mar­ket inno­va­tors and their mes­sag­ing had to com­mu­ni­cate exper­tise that only they have with­in the Yak­isu­gi space.


GRAYBOX part­nered with Nakamo­to Forestry to design an ele­gant and pow­er­ful web­site that speaks to their refined prod­uct and mas­tery of craft.


GRAYBOX deliv­ered a beau­ti­ful web­site that res­onates with design­ers and cre­ators. Strate­gic UX enhance­ments cre­at­ed clear paths for poten­tial buy­ers to learn about Yak­isu­gi and sub­mit pur­chase requests. 

  • 96%
    Increase in organic search traffic
  • 50%
    Increase in inbound conversion rate
  • 63%
    Reduction in CPC

The Overall Problem

The Nakamoto Zourin Group is headquartered in western Japan and is the largest manufacturer of Yakisugi in the world. William Beleck, the general manager of Nakamoto Forestry North America, is a master tradesman and has an expert understanding and respect of the Japanese culture surrounding Yakisugi siding. He is passionate about educating western buyers and enthusiasts about the true process behind Yakisugi. In the US, “Shou Sugi Ban” is the most common term associated with burnt wood siding. Yakisugi is technically a “heat treated cypress”, while the term “Shou Sugi Ban” is a mistaken mixture of chinese and Japanese, not recognized in Japan. A DIY culture currently exists in relation to “Shou Sugi Ban” regarding wood-burning techniques This was causing headaches for Bill and his team, inundating them with unqualified leads.

The messaging issue was not the only problem, Nakamoto also lacked modern brand guidelines and a solid UX structure. Their old website design missed aspirational elements and cheapened their product perception. Small imagery, cluttered layouts, and unrefined interactions didn’t carry the desired impact for quality leads.

Nakamoto’s potential customers required significant hand-holding because of the high level of customizations and education needed throughout the buying process. Nakamoto Forestry’s support staff was inundated with calls from buyers who were lost in their shopping journey and many times didn’t meet the financial requirements to buy the minimum amount of product.

After user studies, workshops, and a deep dive into Yakisugi, the GRAYBOX creative and marketing teams developed an elevated Nakamoto Forestry website that spoke to real potential buyers with clarity and authority.

The grade of work GRAYBOX [does] for us is sim­ply incred­i­ble, and we are sin­cere­ly appre­cia­tive of how it is help­ing our com­pa­ny improve. Design deci­sions are sim­ply fab­u­lous and I am final­ly proud of our brand image… and the more we mon­i­tor SEO sta­tis­tics the more we appre­ci­ate the Mar­ket­ing team’s ongo­ing tweaks. Your work means more to us than you prob­a­bly real­ize and I am sin­cere­ly grateful.

William Beleck, Owner, Nakamoto Forestry

Our Solution

Implementing priorities

Nakamoto Forestry had 3 messages and personas to reach. These personas were architects (and designers), homeowners, and contractors. GRAYBOX needed to prioritize messages for different aspects of the buyer journey. After workshops and customer studies, GRAYBOX determined their primary persona were architects based on their influence impact on the other personas and focused the content structure accordingly.

Constructing a new product paradigm

Yakisugi is available in 3 different surfaces, Suyaki, Gendai, and Pika Pika. The surface textures are created based on the amount of brushing applied to the charred cypress. Different finishes can be applied to each surface type creating a unique visual appearance and color.

The original website described its products in a very linear (and copy-heavy) manner. While helpful in educating potential customers on what the product is, it missed the mark on showing how beautiful and varied the different finishes were. GRAYBOX recommended flattening the hierarchy and showing the mix of Suyaki, Gendai, and Pika Pika finishes intermixed with educational content blocks. This visual imagery dramatically improved the shopping experience for potential customers.

Building on a foundation

Brands are manifestations of companies and products. GRAYBOX pushed Nakamoto Forestry to look inward and focus on who they are as a company and how they want to be seen. Analyzing the competitive landscape and other leaders in luxury products, GRAYBOX developed and refined a dynamic brand that leads with confidence, compassion, and intention.

Partnering for success

A respected partnership is vital to creating a satisfactory product. GRAYBOX and Nakamoto Forestry continue to collaborate and iterate within today’s changing landscape. Engaging in healthy conversations with necessary push and pull, GRAYBOX partners with Nakamoto Forestry to create enhanced solutions and strategic goals for future implementations.

Bal­ance is always in play, in design, in life, and in col­lab­o­ra­tions. Meet­ing the needs of Nakamo­to to edu­cate west­ern soci­ety, while pri­or­i­tiz­ing the poten­tial buy­ers aspi­ra­tions was a fan­tas­tic spec­trum to explore and I love the process as much as the outcome.

Lauren Smith, Art Director at GRAYBOX


GRAYBOX provided guidance and Nakamoto Forestry brought their Yakisugi expertise. Conversations were sharp, thoughtful, and considerate. This comes through in the final deliverable -- a beautiful website that drives the right leads to reach out and connect with Nakamoto’s sales team.

GRAYBOX delivered a beautiful website that resonates with designers and creators. Strategic UX enhancements created clear paths for potential buyers to learn about Yakisugi and submit purchase requests.

  • 96%
    Increase in organic search traffic
  • 50%
    Increase in inbound conversion rate
  • 63%
    Reduction in CPC