How important is your domain name to you brand? Most online businesses would probably consider it to be quite important, and with good reason. Sometimes before searching, customers may simply opt to go to the "yourbrandhere.com" URL simply because it makes sense. Now, sometimes that URL is already taken, and for start-ups, that's something to consider in itself.
As Monte Cahn, Founder and President of Moniker mentioned in a recent interview with WebProNews, it's a good idea to make sure the domain name is available when coming up with a name for your brand, or at least make sure that you are able to acquire it. Products have their own brands, and this way of thinking can also be applied to them in many cases. Cahn notes that even the big companies make mistakes in this area. For example, you would expect Apple to own iPad.com, considering the huge announcement about the device the company made this year, but someone else has that domain.
Cahn also stresses the importance of covering your brand in terms of domain names. This means getting all variations possible. Get typos, different extensions and country codes, etc. Use 301 redirects on misspells of key brands (including singular/plural versions). However, when it comes to domain names for different products, he says it's best to build sub-sites around those with their own content, which can help drive link juice, SEO value, and traffic.
Getting the .com that reflects your company name is not always possible, unfortunately. In these cases, it may serve you well to find a different aspect of your brand to center your domain around, but this will require a greater level of promotion of that URL than a simple companyname.com. For example, if there are unique key phrases within your company's slogan, you may find such an opportunity there.
Domains should be easy to remember, not too long, easy to spell, relevant to your brand, and avoid complicating characters such as hyphens. I think one key to a successful domain name is simplicity, although there are always exceptions to the rule.