Since the bygone days of T.V. garden makeover shows, decking has become an increasingly common sight, both at home and in commercial development. While these areas provide a functional, versatile outdoor space, they are often compromised by one limiting factor – the decking boards themselves.
Because of their wooden construction, most decks need ongoing maintenance to maintain their looks and performance – this has led to the introduction of composite decking, of which there are varying levels of quality and authenticity, with composite decking companies competing with one another to gain traction in the market.
Millboard is one of those companies and is, justifiably, proud of the products it’s developed. The product is a premium decking board made from superior quality composite materials that have been moulded from real timber – even a 100-year-old piece of driftwood. Its beautifully engineered substrate complements an innovative top layer, which is so supple, it closes over its specially developed fixings. Millboard even developed a unique frame to ensure the integrity of the entire deck for lifetime endurance.
Millboard approached SLG to help create awareness of its unique subframe. However, SLG worked with Millboard to extract the real value of the company’s products to the wider market and developed a completely new brief as a result.
However, there was still work to do with Millboard before we were confident enough to roll out the new brief.
Who was Millboard? What exactly was the business? Why was the product known as Millboard? Who were the audience? What was the market – and were there more than just one?
We began working with Millboard, focusing on who they were as a group of people, what their personalities brought to the business, what their business was and why it did what it did. We tackled each area on a strategic level, ensuring a true science was behind everything. Anything that fell short of this ‘litmus paper’ test, was disregarded.
From here, we created pen profiles depicting the character of customers within five different groups; homeowner, architect, contractor, distributor and developer. We created key messaging around these profiles to help define future campaign collateral and target appropriately.
We worked together to extrapolate the true meaning of ‘Live. Life. Outside.’ And how that translated within residential and commercial markets. A brand narrative and tone of voice was created along with full brand guidelines – and an all-important proposition that positioned Millboard as a pioneer in its market. We’d developed a personality for the business. A business that was now relatable.
It was at this point, we spotted a commercial opportunity.
Millboard was competing directly with manufacturers of composite decking, a market that accounts for only 3% of total annual decking sales thanks to the dominance of natural hard and soft timber systems. It was at this point we realised there was a bigger business opportunity – one which would enable Millboard to break free from the confines of this relatively small and saturated bubble, and vastly improve its visibility whilst potentially increasing its market share.
Why not reposition Millboard outside of the ‘composites’ category? Instead, let’s go head-to-head with the traditional timber market. Afterall, Millboard decking is exactly like wood, only without the associated drawbacks.
Even with the relationship now firmly established, Millboard was still tentative about breaking into the timber market with its products. But we believed the strategy. Trusted it 100%. The science never lies.
The new brief was to deliver a solution that would help Millboard raise brand awareness, given its difficulty in gaining traction within the composite decking market. We were to use the product’s unique material and subsequent capabilities to help deliver the solution; it’s slip-resistance mould-resistance, requiring no additional finishing, it doesn’t rot, warp or splinter and is timelessly beautiful in a range of colours and finishes.
In short, Millboard’s products take the best qualities of natural wood, and enhance them. Making them a strong competitor to the timber decking market, not just another composite deck manufacturer.
It was this position that drove the creation of a new visual concept.
Seeing Millboard decking inserted into a natural forest scene, ‘Can’t See the Wood for the Millboard’ pushed the authentic textures and colouring of its decking to the forefront, while making its benefits abundantly clear.
The resulting concept was born out of a traditional anecdote ‘you can’t see the wood for the trees’ and presented the decking in a composition that allowed a direct comparison with real timber in a creative, engaging way.
This was just the beginning. The strategy, creative application and defining Millboard as a real contender in the timber decking market, made way for building brand awareness through individual product touch points, enabling new innovations such as its Bullnose and contemporary Brushed Basalt products. Subsequently, this articulated into new campaigns for each of these product launches and helped secure a significant increase in sample requests, resulting in improved sales overall.
From the beginning, the aim was to not only raise Millboard’s profile with its previous audience, but to expose the wider public to its products.
As a direct result of the repositioning and campaign activity – including digital and press advertising and the use of Direct Mail – Millboard experienced a 55% year-on-year increase in web traffic, and an 81% rise in product sample requests, a figure which is made all the more impressive in its post-GDPR compliance landscape.
We continue to work closely with Millboard, developing the brand for future expansion.