Why Do Short Brandable Domains Make Stronger Brands Than Generic Domains?

If you ever look at Alexa top sites (or simply stop and think about the most major online brands), you’d notice a trend. Among the top brands, you’ll find nearly every form of short brandable domain imaginable, and very few generic domains.

For instance, if you look at Alexa top sites, the closest to a generic domain that you might come across in top rankings are Blogger.com at rank 44, Ask.com at rank 52 and About.com at rank 67. While those are close to being generic, they aren’t quite 100% generic for what is on them. The first true generic you’ll reach is Weather.com at rank 115.

Granted, Google and Yahoo have a lot of the top 100 spots, but still, no truly generic brand in the top 100 trafficked sites online? Even Pinterest, launched less than 2 years ago, is now up to a 1-month rank of 105, making it ranked higher than every generic brand in online traffic!

It’s clear that short brandable domains can be more powerful and create more prominent brands, but how?

Why are short brandable brands more prominent than generic domain brands?

They can be openly defined (or redefined)

What did “You Tube” mean before YouTube.com came along? What did “eBay” mean? What did “Apple” refer to other than a fruit, or “Amazon” other than a river/region? These brands have all defined or redefined the word(s) they’ve used for their brand.

Sure, Shoes.com could become a largely successful website, but could it ever have the household name recognition that Nike does? Not likely. One of the downfalls of a generic brand is you can’t say the brand without saying the domain. Otherwise it would sound awkward in conversation. Imagine if Shoes were a brand of shoe – how would you discuss buying shoes of their brand?

They are limitless in product/service areas

Google started out as a small search engine. Amazon started as simply an online book store. Apple started as a computer company (though they were originally known as Apple Computer). All of them have since parlayed their success into many different areas, some related and some unrelated. Their openly brandable names have helped them do that.

Would SearchEngine.com be expected to have email or chat? Would Books.com be expected to sell games? Would Computer.com be expected to sell songs? Each of these generic domains, as great as they are for their respective areas, are not very expandable beyond those areas.

They aren’t as limited to the internet

The whole point of having a high quality generic name as a brand is to have a presence of authority online. It doesn’t translate as well to an offline presence. Having to say the “dot com” part of the name in offline business situations would come off rather awkward.

Short brandable names can flourish both online and offline however. Apple started before the internet came about and has since become a powerhouse online as well. Google started online initially but has entered the electronics market both with devices as well as software to great success.

They aren’t as limited by language

Would many places throughout the world know or care about phrases like “search engine” or “social media”? Probably not. In fact, many English words can be hard to pronounce if sounded out in other languages.

A brand name like Nike on the other hand can be much easier to embed into international culture. Even if it may have had a meaning in a particular language, it’s nice and short, easy to understand how to pronounce, and is easier to openly interpret and thus associate to what they make – shoes.

They are shorter/easier to say

The last point touches on this for the international crowd, but what about English-speakers? Well bear in mind, even with the shortest generic domains, you would have to say the extension as well when talking about them. Otherwise you’ll wind up sounding awkward or confusing. Short brand names don’t need the extension said, which makes them much more natural for conversation.

They are more lively

Being in the domain industry, we have a passion for the top tier generic domains – after all, they make up the highest sales and thus might be considered the most lively names to us. However, to a consumer, generic brands are too normal and can even come across as boring (though usually not if they’re top tier). They don’t offer a uniqueness or flair despite how rare they really are compared to brandable names.

So whether it’s a single word but used for different meaning (Apple and Amazon), a brandable misspelling (Google, Flickr), a unique combination of words (Face Book, You Tube), a brandable phrase (Linked In) or simply a made up word (Microsoft), a short brandable name can facilitate limitless aspirations.

At Domainate, we can help you get the exposure and presence you need with the right domain. With our assistance, large and small businesses and organizations have achieved their online goals by getting a better domain. Contact us if you need to get a domain for your business or organization.


4 Comments on “Why Do Short Brandable Domains Make Stronger Brands Than Generic Domains?”

  1. petrogold says:

    But Mr.Rick Schwartz tried his best to explain, it is only ‘generic type ins’ that makes sell. Could you please explain his argument with yours?

    • Steve Jones says:

      I actually decided BEFORE you sent this comment that what you’re talking about would be the subject of my next article. :)

      Indeed generic domains make the highest sales and there are some reasons for that. Rick however HAS had high sales of domains that aren’t really generic such as iReport.com to CNN, so even he can appreciate the sellability of strong brandable domains.

  2. [...] a previous article, I proclaim that short brandable domains make stronger brands than generic domains. I’ve had a couple people ask me since then why generic domains sell for more if that’s [...]

  3. [...] of short brandable domains, which we’ve highly touted in posts here including our recent one proclaiming them to be better brands than even top-tier generics. Especially with additional focus on mobile users, there’s as much of a focus on not having [...]


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