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Mad Libs for Happy Branding

February 23, 2021

Stagger first launched in 2019 as an iOS app for making continuous collages for Instagram. I wanted a story to reveal itself as people scrolled through my carousel of images. I wanted it to engage. I wanted it to have people pause and be present.

The app was fully designed before it ever had a name. It was kind of like that baby whose parents didn’t name them until they met them.

When it came time to name the app, I made a list of all the possible names and words that described what I was making

  • Scroll
  • Continue
  • Reveal
  • etc

There was one word I kept saying over and over when I was describing the functionality of it. “Stagger”.

“Add your images and stagger them along these stitched-together canvases.” There was something about Stagger that caught my ear. It was sharp. A real word. Not a made up name. And then I looked it up:



an arrangement of things in a zigzag order or so that they are not in line.

It fit. It kind of sounded like “swagger”. One and a half years later, Stagger is trademarked, we own the .com, and have lots of swag with “STAGGER” all over it. Now in 20201, the business has evolved beyond the iOS app and expanded its vision. It was time to pressure test the name “Stagger” to see how it held up.

Fill in the __________.

I used to freelance for startups/agencies and branding was always the most fun and challenging part of the process. One of my favorite ways to have business owners and marketers get creative when defining who they are was to do it in a madlib style.

Red Antler, a well-known design and branding agency, is known touse this style in some of their brainstorms when working with companies. It’s a good place to start for the business owners who don’t have huge budgets to work with agencies of this caliber but need something to kickstart the brainstorming on their own.

For (insert target customer) who (insert statement of need), (insert product name) is a (insert what the product does) that (insert product’s emotional benefits) unlike (insert competing alternatives). (Insert product name) will (insert long-term vision for the company).

The idea is to start to identify the core elements of your brand/product:

  • Who are you selling to/who is buying your product
  • What are you selling and what does it do
  • What do you want your consumer to feel
  • How are you different
  • What value do you bring to your customers

Red Antler’s Head of Strategy in 2017 said:

Today, [a successful company] is not just about the product or the experience, but it’s about the storyJonah Fay-Hurvitz, Red Antler, Head of Strategy 2017

Here’s Stagger’s turned out:

What’s your brand’s madlib?