Is it better to have a domain that is short & brand-able (e.g. Flickr, Quora) or one that is longer but easy to spell?

Yes, it is important to K-I-S-S, but you don't have to overdo it. One sillable, two, three – this actually doesn't spell problem in reality, just in textbooks.

Short does not by itself mean 'suited for branding'; many people do not internalize that fact.

Also, keep in mind that you will never 'own' the misspellings of your brand. Imagine one of them being a negatively connotated word in arabic for example. If you expand globally, and you did not find that out during your research, you're in trouble. Or imagine someone registering a misspelling of your brand as their brand (some brands are misspelled on purpose; you mentioned Flickr) and ruining its image. You might share that faith then.

All in all, you can also own a brand that is short and not misspelled – there are still ways to figure a matching one out and get your hands on the domain. If you haven't tried Domainhole, yet, you might want to. Your chosen domain is not available anymore? Do check the price. Sometimes they come cheaper than you might think. If that is off the table because you already researched for it, and you therefore might have to go for a misspelled brand name, then make sure

  1. that the misspelling sounds like the correct, generic term that it is based upon,
  2. that the corresponding web equity is available (be it for purchase) in all of the channels that you need (if you haven't figured that out, do it first),
  3. that either Google helps you by finding your brand even though it is misspelled or make sure to buy the corresponding Adwords and fine-tune your SEO so it works accordingly. I'd suggest to do the latter anyway.

Don't forget that, depending on your product, your brand can be marketed in several ways that differ from the beaten path. For example, shifting your marketing budget towards app store marketing (ASO) could make the role of your exact domain spelling less important.

See the answer on Quora:

Is it better to have a domain that is short & brand-able (e.g. Flickr, Quora) or one that is longer but easy to spell?

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