Starting a new business is an exciting endeavor, but it can also be quite scary. There are so many different things that you need to do, so much paperwork! The legalities can seem incredibly overwhelming, and there are so many decisions that you need to make before you can even start with operations.
Perhaps one of the biggest decisions that you can make when it comes to your new business is the name. What’s in a name? A lot, as it turns out. A name is associated with your brand, your company’s identity. There’s a lot riding on your company’s name, so you need to get it right straight off the bat.
Naming a new business is one of the numerous processes involved in setting up a new business and there are a lot of factors to be considered when choosing a business name. In fact, finding a business name is quite a crucial and herculean task. Some companies even spend thousands of dollars just to have their prospective names tested. They go through great lengths in order to assure the universality of the company name.
They conduct surveys in order to confirm that the name does not reflect any biases, does not discriminate any particular group and conforms to everyone. This is especially true for global companies. Companies have to think of something catchy and easy-to-remember.
But how do you choose the perfect name for your business, that both you and your prospective customers will love? Fear not, we’re here to help you. Here’s everything that you need to know and consider when it comes to choosing a name for your business.
What is a Business Name?
A business name is the name under which you operate your business. A business name is simply a name or title given to a particular business to serve as identification. Also a business name can be known as a trade name which is used for trading commercial products goods and services.
This may seem like a redundant thing to say, but it’s different from your personal name. Some people may choose to use their names, of course, but the identity of your brand and your products will be associated with the name that you choose to use for operations. As you can imagine, it’s very important that you choose a name that can be marketable and that accurately reflects your business. It needs to be unique to your business and something that can thrive as your company gets bigger and bigger. Some people may also have a different business name from their company name.
As we will talk about later in this article, there are a lot of things that go into a business name. It’s something that your customers will use to identify your business, and there are also a lot of legal factors that go along with it.
Sample Business Name ideas Based on Industry
Can’t find your specific business above, then use the tips below to craft a memorable name for your business.
Steps on How to Choose the Perfect Business Name
Choosing the perfect business name can be quite difficult. It’s almost like naming your child – there are so many options and ideas out there. You may even find that the first one that you think of sounds awful when you hear it again later on. That’s why it’s so important to thoroughly assess your options before you finally settle on a name. Here are a couple of ways that you can find the ideal business name for you.
Table of Content
- 1. Use Relative and Creative Words
- 2. Keep It Simple
- 3. Don’t Copy Competitors
- 4. Ensure You’ve Got a Relevant Domain
- a. Legal Considerations
- i. Remember to get advice from friends & family
- ii. Think about SEO
- iii. A business name is the first step in building your brand
- iv. Choose Something That Scales
- v. Consider Something That’s Not In The Dictionary
- vi. Don’t Use Your Name
1. Use Relative and Creative Words
When you’re choosing a business name, it can often help to begin with a root word. Think of a word that you are going to associate with your business. What words are there that are related to that word? Look online for some inspiration. You don’t need to choose something that’s boring, either. Something like ‘Basic Hardware’ doesn’t sound very intriguing for a business where you’re selling tools. Instead, you could use words that are synonyms.
Choosing a name that’s creative and relevant is especially important if you’re going to need investors to get your business off the ground. It has been proven that around 82% of investors have declared that the name of the business is vital when it comes to making a decision about who they are going to invest in.
You can watch an episode of Dragon’s Den and probably see this coming up too. Basic Hardware isn’t going to get the investment if there’s someone else with a much better name, selling the same kind of product for the same quality. Your name needs to make you stand out from the masses.
You should look for something that’s catchy that your customers are likely to remember – again, think back to the Kentucky Fried Chicken example mentioned earlier. Choose something that’s going to be memorable to your customers.
You can play around with naming techniques too. For instance, you could choose a name that has alliteration in the title. Maybe you sell milkshakes and your name is Mike – How about Mike’s Milkshakes for a name? It sounds catchy, and the repeated M sound makes it really easy to remember.
So how does a name become catchy? Well, it may have some sort of emotional meaning – it makes your customer feel something. Perhaps the name has a particular meaning that resonates with the customer. It should be a name that is easy to share, and something you can search without too much trouble remembering what it’s called. Some people even use words that they’ve made up.
2. Keep It Simple
When you’re choosing your business name, it’s also important to keep it simple. There are some exceptions to this as we will discuss later – there are many people that have chosen ‘complicated’ names that have been very effective, such as YouTube, Zillow or Google. If you can effectively choose a more complicated name that creates a recognizable brand then go ahead! For many people though, sticking to the basics is often a lot easier when you’re first starting your business.
As mentioned in the previous section, choose words associated with your industry – words that your customers can associate with your brand’s story and products. You can keep things simple and still create a great name for your business.
It doesn’t need to be overly complicated. It should be a name that can be associated with positive things too – if the name has an unpleasant meaning that you don’t want associated with your company, don’t use it. At that point, it’s better going back to the drawing board.
3. Don’t Copy Competitors
This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s a really bad idea to copy your competitors. If you have a name that’s similar or identical to another business in the industry, it doesn’t look good. You will end up looking like you don’t have any originality of your own and this can be pretty bad for the overall look of your brand. The businesses can get confused too, so they may end up accidentally going to your competitor instead of you.
As we have established many times before, your business name needs to be one that your customers can easily associate with your brand and products. It should be distinct and unique, something that doesn’t sound the same as every other business in your industry. If you have the same name as someone else, it’s not going to do you any favors.
Aside from the logistical elements, it’s also vital that you don’t copy your competitors from a legal perspective. If you choose the same name as your competitors you can end up getting sued in a court case, and if they have patented the name already then it’s a case that you are almost certain to lose.
It’s an even bigger problem if the company is large and has the money to spend on suing you even more money. It can completely ruin your reputation and can lose you a lot of money in the process. Do yourself a favor – do your research and find something else. Always double check if another business has the same name too. You can avoid so many problems just by making yourself informed.
4. Ensure You’ve Got a Relevant Domain
When choosing your name, you will also need to consider whether that name can also work with a suitable domain. The domain that you have in mind needs to be one that’s actually available. There are some domains that are registered as a trademark, or are otherwise being used by someone else so they will not be usable for you. It’s worth doing a domain name check before settling on your name.
You may think that a domain name is something that can wait and isn’t important, but that’s a pretty naive view to take. In the current digital age, your online presence means everything. If you don’t have a suitable domain, then how are people going to find you?
Having a suitable domain name means that you are more likely to create a strong online presence, it makes it easier for people to find you and more. Ultimately, it’s one of the most important things that you can do for your business, and it links with so many other aspects of the marketing for your business too.
That doesn’t mean that you should completely abandon the idea of your business name because the domain that you want isn’t there. Instead, you can add things like modifiers to it, like ‘online’ or things like that. You can play around with the domain selection, or you can buy the domain if it’s a parked domain. All hope is not lost if your exact domain name is gone.
Important Points to Consider Before Picking a Name
So now you know why it’s important to pick a business name – now it’s onto the harder part! What do you need to think about before you choose a name for your business? Here’s what you should consider.
a. Legal Considerations
First of all, it’s important to note that naming your business is a legal procedure too. You need to ensure that you go through all of the proper channels when naming your business. You should check the laws before you name your business.
First of all, remember that once you do choose a name, you are then going to need to register the name straight away if the business is a company. When registering the business, you need to register the name at the same time that you register the company. If, on the other hand, you are a sole trader or your business is a partnership, then your business name is going to need to be registered elsewhere. This is a little different if the business is named directly after you of course.
Likewise, there are also other legal elements to think about. For instance, is the name trademarked? If the name is trademarked and you decide to use it anyway, then there’s a pretty strong chance that you are going to be asked to change it later down the line or else risk getting a lawsuit.
That’s not something that anyone wants to do. Get it right straight away and avoid trademarked names. When you do choose your business name, make sure that you get it trademarked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to avoid having to deal with someone else stealing your name.
Other things that may be worth considering include having a name that has your location in it. This is a good idea if you are primarily going to be trading in the local region. It will help people nearby to find you a lot more easily, allowing you to reach your target market.
There are even certain words and phrases that you simply cannot use when naming your business. For instance, if you want to use words like Corporation, Incorporated or Inc, you will be prevented from doing so if your business hasn’t been registered as an incorporation. The same goes for limited companies or similar abbreviations.
You also can’t use words that will suggest that it’s part of the government. You can’t use words that need certain licensing if you do not, in fact, have that license , you can’t refer to it as a bank unless you’re authorized to do so, and you can’t use deviations of words that are prohibited. There’s a lot of stuff to keep in mind, as you can see!
It’s not just the international laws you need to consider either. There are also business name restrictions that exist based on the state that you will be operating in. For instance, in Arkansas, ‘Olympic’ is a restricted word. In North Dakota, words associated with farming are restricted. It’s worth looking into the different words restricted in your state when you are trying to find a name.
Ultimately, you need to ensure that you get clued up on the business naming law book before you get started on choosing a name. If you are unsure about what to do with regards to the legal elements of naming your company, it’s usually a good idea to speak to a legal professional for further advice and clarification. This will help you to avoid any unfortunate and time consuming problems later down the line.
Tips for Choosing a Good Business Name That Stands Out
If you’re still a little bit stuck, we understand. There’s a lot that goes into a name, after all, and it can feel so overwhelming when you have limitless opportunities for names available out there. Thankfully though, we’ve compiled a couple of tips to help you out a little!
i. Remember to get advice from friends & family
When you’re trying to choose a business name, it’s always a really good idea to speak to your friends and family. Think about it – when you choose a name for your baby, who are the first people to give you their opinions, even if you didn’t ask for them? The great thing about friends and family is that you can usually expect them to give you an honest answer about the sound of your name. They most likely won’t hold back either!
Next time you have a family gathering, try bouncing some names off your loved ones. Ask them what they would think in the hypothetical scenario where they were looking for products in your industry and were looking for businesses to use. Would they gravitate towards you? Is there any reason that they think that the name isn’t such a good idea?
Your friends and family can also be very useful because if you are struggling to come up with names, they may be able to help you. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose a name for your business all by yourself, so enlisting the help from other people can often be a great way to get some ideas and inspiration. Even if you don’t use any of the names they give you, they may just lead you down the right path.
ii. Think about SEO
Another thing to consider is the SEO aspect. How easy is it to search your company’s name? Is your company name going to be flooded in a sea of other search terms, or is it likely to be one of the first things to come up when you search for it?
You can look on websites such as SEMRush or Moz and these will help you to figure out the level of popularity, whether it’s for a paid search or organic. Look to see whether there are any social hashtags with the name. If the name is incredibly competitive and you don’t have a stone throw’s chance of getting seen, then it may be a good idea to consider another name instead.
iii. A business name is the first step in building your brand
Always remember that the name of your business is the very first thing that is going to help you to build the brand. With a good business name, you can then begin to focus your marketing efforts so that you can be seen and thus get more customers. That’s why it’s so important that you get it right. Stay away from any names that are going to be bad for business, that don’t stand out enough or names that just aren’t going to serve you in the long run.
iv. Choose Something That Scales
When you’re first getting started with your business, it’s easy to think about the short term goals. Perhaps you just want to get big in your local area and then gradually build up to selling on a wider scale. Perhaps you’ll eventually want to branch out and sell other items.
Make sure that you don’t restrict yourself, with this in mind. For instance, if you currently sell dining chairs but would eventually like to sell other kinds of chairs, don’t limit yourself to a name that has dining chairs in the title. If you are currently operating in the local area, truly consider whether it makes sense for your business to use the local area in the name of your business if you can see yourself expanding into other places.
It’s certainly possible to scale a business with a somewhat limiting name, but you will be much better off trying to choose a name that is scalable and will reflect where you want to be in 5-10 years, not just where you want to be today.
v. Consider Something That’s Not In The Dictionary
This sort of goes against the advice to keep it simple, but you can still make a name simple and snappy without using something in the dictionary! You’ll have a hard time finding someone else with the same name as your business if you make up your own name.
For instance, was YouTube in the dictionary before it launched? Probably not! Yet, despite the fact that this is a made up, almost nonsensical word, we all recognize it and it’s now a globally recognized business name. If you do it right, making up your own name can be incredibly effective. If you don’t think that you can do it justice though, it may be best to go back to basics and keep it simple.
vi. Don’t Use Your Name
Some business owners like to use their own name for their business, but this isn’t always the best idea until you have established your brand. What exactly is your name telling people about your brand other than that it is run by you? It doesn’t mean much to anyone except your friends and family.
You want something that your customers will associate with your product, not with you. It’s possible to use your name in a creative way though, by building it into a word that you use in the business name. As we’ve said previously – get creative, and you’re more likely to be seen.
Most of the time, most entrepreneurs prefer business names that have a personal touch to it; because it has a connection to the owner. It could be a name, a word or something just coined by the owners of the company. The business name can be something thought of prior to the creation of the business or it may be a long list of names to choose from. When the latter is the case, some helpful tips on how to choose a business name may help trim down the list.
vii. Choose a business name that’s easy to remember
A business name should be simple and easy to spell. You do not want your prospective customers scratching their heads while trying to remember the name of your store. A name may appear like a mere emblem to the business but because it does not necessarily reflect the quality of the company’s services but it is possible that consumers may decide to switch to competitors because of the mere fact that they cannot remember the name of your store.
viii. Choose a business name that’s unique
Choose a name that will set you apart from your competitors. Most of the time it is not recommended to follow name trends in an industry because of the obvious fact that it can create confusion among consumers.
ix. Spice up your business name with some creativity
Use a witty catch phrase along with an equally clever company name. Catchy phrases come with the company name like eggs do with bacon. These two are an inseparable pair. A few powerful words put together as the catchy phrase can really make or break your company’s popularity.
Think of it as the best platform for advertising the company, so use this opportunity to your advantage. A lot of companies actually make a mark in the industry because people remember them for their catch phrases.
x. Choose a business name that reflects your services
Choose a name that people can easily relate to. You do not want a name that people will find intimidating. But of course, you have to consider the product you are selling and the company’s potential target market. If it is a high-end gadget store you are trying to build, then the name should be something classy and modern.
The company name should be compatible with your company’s character. For instance, if you are real estate developer, your business name may be: Johnson’s Real Estate Developers Co. The essence of this type of business names is that customers can know the type of services you offer by just seeing your business name.
A name is the company’s identification; it also carries with it the company’s reputation. So do not use pun or foul words when choosing a business name. Some companies employ pun in their names and they are able to get away with it. Sometimes it can work to the company’s advantage – especially if it relates well to the product. But this approach can be quite tricky.
The Importance of Having a Business Name
Naming a business is very important as it serves as a means of identification. And just as I said earlier, it is your business name that sends a message about your business ‘to the outside world. So why is it so important to have a business name? Furthermore, what about having the right business name? Well, here are some reasons why having the correct business name is so important.
1. Helps growth and perception of the business
We all want to think that when it comes to business, people will try something out before they judge, but it’s not always the case. As people, we often judge things as soon as we see them. If the breakfast that you’re served in your local cafe looks hideous, would you want to eat it? Likewise, if the name of a meal sounds gross, are you likely to buy it?
Names matter a lot more than we give them credit for. They’re the first thing that people will come to associate with your brand and it impacts how people see you. It’s one of the most important things when it comes to branding alongside your company’s logo.
Your business name absolutely must give your customer the right message – what do you want to tell your customers or clients when they read your name? Something that’s catchy and easy to identify will help your customer to remember your name when they need your product or services.
Just think about KFC, for instance. If you think to yourself ‘hmmm, I want chicken. Where should I go?’ one of the first things that you’re likely to think about is KFC. The sound of the words ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ is catchy, so you remember it. You then come to associate those flavors and spices with the brand name. That’s an example of a brand name done correctly.
Your business name helps to create a relationship between you and your customers, but if it isn’t done correctly, it can also burn any bridges between you before the bridge has even been built.
2. Sums up what the company is about
Picking your business name isn’t a matter of just drawing something random out of a hat. No – there’s so much more to it than that. You need to think about whether it actually represents what the company stands for, its services and its products. What do people think of when they hear your brand name? Does it accurately reflect your character, and is the branding going to be effective for targeting the kinds of customers that you have in mind for the business?
3. Hiring Purposes
There are a lot of things that go into creating an effective business, but one thing is for sure – many businesses would not be where they are today without dedicated and talented employees. You can only be a one man band for so long – eventually you are going to need to branch out and hire people to help you to run the show. Your business name can actually help you to attract talent.
Think about it. When you were in college or high school, did you ever see a company, like Apple for instance, and say ‘wow, I want to work there’? Why was that? Was it because you heard about the benefits the company provided, or because you associate things that you like with that company, like innovative technology?
When your brand becomes associated with certain things, it becomes more – or less – appealing both to customers and future employees. If your name isn’t easy to identify, is overly complicated or long, then are people even going to remember your name enough to put you on a list of contenders for their job search? Probably not.
4. Choosing the Wrong Name Can Be Detrimental to your Business
You may think that choosing a name for your business is a relatively minor choice, but this is most certainly not the case. Choosing the right name can be a good thing since it will bring positive associations with your brand, so long as you conduct business in an appropriate manner.
The same can be true on the flip side. For instance, while using a location specific name can often be helpful if you only intend to operate in that area, it can be incredibly problematic if you would eventually like to expand. By labeling your name based on a specific location, customers from further afield are far less likely to seek out your services.
As such, you need to think about what your plans are in the long run when choosing your business name – not just what you intend to do in the immediate future. You’ll need a name that’s likely to perform well in your industry too – language is important and can differ a lot from one industry to the next.
- It is important to name a business because it represents your business identity.
- It compels your target market
- It is makes your business memorable to potential clients.
- It helps your business to stand out competition and draws customer’s attention
- It is an essential component for branding and brand identity creation
In conclusion, the methods on how to choose a business name are flexible. Not one style can be applied for all industries. Just always to remember that with a good business name does not come without the duty to provide customers with excellent service.
Your business name is a little like the first man that walked on the moon. It’s a small step for the business now, but it’s a giant leap that will mean a lot in the long run. Your business name needs longevity and creativity in order for it to truly represent your brand.
It can be a challenge to choose the right business name, but it’s worthwhile to sit and think about it for a while before settling on anything definitive. Hopefully now, knowing all of the things we’ve mentioned above, you too can find the perfect name for your business that will take it to all new heights.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can 2 Companies Have Same Business Name in Different Countries?
- Do You Have to Use LLC in a Business Name?
- How Do You Know a Business Name is Taken?
- How Do You Protect a Business Name Without a Trademark?
How Do You Find Out If The Business Name You Want Is Available?
In most states in the United States, the website of the state business filing agency includes an online entity name check tool. You can use the online tool to search business names and find out whether another business is already using the name you have chosen.
Does A Name Indicate What Your Business Is About?
Not really, but it is always advisable to choose a business name that reflects what your business is all about. It will help in marketing your services or products.
How Do You Get A Unique Business Name?
In order to get a unique business name, you should be creative and as a matter of fact, you should try a combination of names. It could be a combination of your name and the name of your spouse or business partner or a combination of your children’s names or the names of your parents. With that, trust me, it will be unique.
What Do You Want People To Think And Feel When They See Your Business Name?
Usually, it is better for people to think of your business as a serious business or a business that is innovative and can deliver excellent services or products.
What Issues Should I Keep In Mind When Picking A Name For my Business?
When picking a business name, some of the issues you can have in mind is that you must make sure your business name does not portray your business in a bad light, or you are not copying the name of an existing business and above all, you must make sure your business name is easy to pronounce and spell.
Can You Name An LLC After Yourself?
Yes, and as a matter of fact, Limited liability companies can use personal names in a variety of ways: first names, last names, initials plus the last name, or a personal name that is only part of the business name, such as “Joy’s Bar and Grill.” You can also form an LLC under a different name and use your personal name as your DBA or “doing business as”.
How Do You Come Up With A Catchy Business Name?
If you intend to come up with a catchy business name, then you must be ready to explore every available source within your grasp, and good enough the internet is a good place to start. All you need to do is to google catchy business name, when you come by the one that catches your fancy, you can then tweak the name or pattern the name to suit the type of business you want to start.
Can A Name Convey Your Mission As A Business?
There is no set rule that states that your business name can convey your mission as a business, but trust me, it will not be a bad idea if your business name conveys the mission of the business. As a matter of fact, it will help put the mission of the business always at the front burner of people’s hearts.
Can You Use A Business Name That’s Taken In Another State?
Yes, you can legally use the same business name in your own state or another state, if it is not in the state where the business name is filed, and it doesn’t violate trademark rules.
What Is A Brand Name and What Is An Example Of A Brand Name?
A brand name is a name that you use to identify the family of products or services that you offer or a single line of products or services that you offer. For example, Nike is the brand name used on most products manufactured by Nike, Inc. In this example, the business name and brand name are the same.
What Are The Different Types Of Brand Names?
- Descriptive brand names.
- Evocative Brand Name.
- Invented brand name.
- Lexical brand names.
- Acronym Brand Names.
- Geographical brand name.
- Founder brand names.
- Historical brand names.
How Do You Pick A Name For Your Etsy Shop?
You are advised to pick a name that is easy to pronounce and spell. The former helps shoppers remember your name; the latter makes it easy to find you again. Your Etsy shop name cannot be longer than 20 characters and can’t contain spaces or punctuation.
Is A Brand Name The Same As A Business Name?
The difference between a business name and a brand name is that a business name is primarily used on legal documents, including receipts and contracts. A brand name identifies your line of products or services and is used to market and sell your products or services to the general public.
Can You Have A Business Name That Already Exists?
No, business names that are similar to existing names are not allowed. Using an existing company name can leave you open to legal action and the possibility of being forced to change your business name and pay damages for trademark infringement.
Why You Shouldn’t Name Your Business After Yourself?
Nobody can stop you from naming your business after yourself. As a matter of fact, naming your business after yourself will help preserve your legacy when you are long gone, but the major reason why you should not name your business after yourself is only if you intend selling the business to another person or investor.
What Are The Steps In Creating A Great Brand Name?
- Develop Your Brand Strategy.
- Research the Market, Competitors, and Consumers.
- Identify the Message Your Brand Should Communicate.
- Brainstorm without Judging.
- Create a Short List.
- Trademark and Domain Name Availability Search.
- Create a Shorter Short List.
- Develop Brand Marketing Mock-ups
- Test Your Brand Marketing Mock-ups
- Roll out and Monitor Your Brand
Can You Use The Word Uber In Your Business Name?
In theory, you can use the word Uber in your business name especially if you are operating in very different industries. Please note that Uber Technologies is a tech company offering technology services for ride-sharing, food delivery, and other services. It was incorporated in 2010. Uber Technologies has and continues to use the word “’Uber’ as an abbreviation of its full business name” in its marketing and advertising.
How Do You Create A Good Brand Name?
Here are 5 tips to come up with a good one;
- Gather ideas and brainstorm with your partners to form a list of possible names.
- Use clear, descriptive, easy-to-remember words.
- Make sure it’s unique.
- Skip the buzz words.
- Make sure the name can be carried over to your logo, slogans & taglines.
What Makes A Strong Business Name?
A strong business name is crucial to building a strong brand. To be strong and powerful, a business name must convey importance and prestige. The name should leave an impression on potential customers and instill a sense of trust and reliability. It should also be unique and memorable.
Can Two Companies Have the Same Name?
Yes, your company can have the same name as another company, and vice versa, with no claims of trademark infringement. However, if your business is using a company name that’s the same as another incorporated company, there could be grounds for a legal dispute, and you may not be able to legally use the business name.
Should A Brand Be All About Fair Trade Or Sustainability?
Not necessarily so, but please note that Fairtrade can improve food security which is closely linked to economic growth, stable income, and reduced risk and vulnerability. If a farmer has a better income, it means he or she has more money to buy food and more money to invest in growing more crops.
Can A Name Fit Your Audience Demographics?
Yes, of course, you can name a business to fit your audience demography and as a matter of fact, that is just the way to go if indeed you want to capture the younger generation. They will easily identify with your brand if you speak their language.
What’s The Best Type Of Name For Your Business?
In order to get the best type of name for your business, then you must be ready to explore every available resource at your disposal and as a matter of fact, It might interest you to note that you can leverage on free business name generators to find the best brand names for your business and here are some of the sites you can visit to get started;
- Name Mesh.
- Brand Root.
What Is The Most Important Thing To Consider When Naming Your Business?
First and foremost, a good name should be short – two to four – syllables and easy to pronounce. Business names that are short are ideal simply because they tend to be very brandable and easy for consumers to remember.
How Long Is Too Long Of A Business Name?
When it comes to how long a business name should be, there is no hard and fast rule about it, but to be moderate, you should aim for a maximum of 7 characters because longer business names may be hard to comprehend and remember. If your name is a keyword name, you can have a longer name, as people are familiar with the words and therefore can type them faster, but keep it to 15 characters max.