Branding

This has happened a couple times. I'm sitting in someone's home, teaching them whatever, and their phone rings. They answer, I wait. Eventually they say to the person on the other end, "I'm going to have to let you go. My Mac instructor is here."

Branding is hard. The Mac Instructor, worked for awhile, but the tech world looks remarkably different these days. Mac training appointments are few and far between. But don't feel sorry for me. It's all iOS, now. And business is growing.

Initially, the popularity of the iPad was terrifying. I thought its ease of use ensured people would no longer need training. Oh little did I know! The iPad has actually boosted revenue for at least two reasons. First, people need lots of help understanding how iOS is different then a traditional PC. Moving from a mouse to touch is jarring for anyone who has depended on the desktop for more than a few years. The second reason is this: with iOS comes leaning opportunities related to iCloud, Dropbox, and wireless networking. New iOS owners find themselves surrounded by devices they wish to keep in harmony, and the answer isn't always obvious.

The Mac is no longer the primary focus at Apple. Sales are beginning to plateau. Marketing spotlights mobile. Even Apple Retail runs on iOS. Any company who relies on Apple and has Mac in its name seems rather anachronistic, right? In fact, the growing trend among my own clients aligns right with Tim Cook's predictions: Apple customers are doing 80% of their computing on iOS devices. This is true in homes, but it's becoming especially true among businesses. The vast majority of Mac Instructor training appointments and workshops focus solely on iOS. Clearly, change is in order.

Mac is trademarked by Apple. They do not litigate against companies using the moniker, but they will reject partners who use it in their company name. This hasn't concerned me in the past, but if I ever want to launch a Mac Instructor app or podcast, this will be a real problem. Additionally, if I'm ever motivated to join the Apple Consultants Network, I'll most definitely need a new name. Shortly put, having Mac in my name halts partnership with Apple.

There are three options, as I see it.

First, keep The Mac Instructor and publish new products under my personal name. This means there would be essentially two businesses, thereby diversifying my services. A sharp distinction would exist between consulting services and digital goods. I want people to be able to connect the two and possibly interact in both spheres, so I doubt this is the best idea.

Second, drop The Mac Instructor completely and begin conducting everything under my personal name. This seems to be the choice of many freelancers. The challenge though, is that I have a growing number of consulting clients who might be put off by working with an individual instead of a company, such as businesses who deploy iPads to their staff. A call occasionally comes in from a businessperson who assumes I have an office and full-time staff of my own. Would those people still call if they knew they were just ringing a meager Google Voice number? This is debatable, but I think branding via my name might convey a lack of professionalism.

Third, I could give The Mac Instructor a totally new name. Rebrand. A bit of paperwork would be involved, but it could provide the freedom to explore different kinds of projects all under the same company. I could simply replace Mac with something more generic, like App, or it could be a totally nonsensical name. Educating my current client base about the transition might be a source of frustration, but I don't think it'd be too big of a deal.

The third option seems the most attractive. It makes long-term sense, but it's also the most challenging. In the meantime, I've tweaked the name of the company. It is no longer The Mac Instructor, but just Macinstructor. Technically, this is a made-up word, but the meaning is obvious. Eventually, a name needs to capture what I do without violating Apple trademark, yet also communicate an exclusivity to Apple products. And, it needs to be hot.