BIMI is All Set to Become a New Industry Standard for Brands that Rely on Email

rocket blasting past hot air balloons

By Matthew Vernhout, Netcore Cloud

Chances are, you have been recently hearing about BIMI in emails; the acronym stands for Brand Indicators for Message Identification. On July 12, Google rolled out Gmail’s general support of BIMI that functions as a credible sender authentication for emails; businesses that qualify can now start implementing BIMI for their domains.

BIMI aims to increase recipients’ confidence in the source of emails while enabling senders to reinforce visual branding in communication.

What is BIMI?

image showing email verification in gmail
Image Source: Google

Soon to become an industry standard, BIMI brings brand logos to the recipients’ inboxes. Organizations that intend to deploy BIMI must first validate their emails using DMARC; it ensures that the sender domain is not impersonated. Once an organization authenticates ownership of its corporate logo and its emails clear Google’s other anti-abuse checks, Gmail will display the logo in the avatar slot.

BIMI logos help email recipients quickly recognize the sender brands by visual connection; the recognition improves the customer experience and leads to better engagement. Apart from Gmail, the other providers that support BIMI-authenticated logos are Yahoo, AOL and Fastmail.

The AuthIndicators Working Group describes BIMI as “an emerging email specification that enables the use of brand-controlled logos within supporting email clients. BIMI leverages the work an organization has put into deploying DMARC protection by bringing brand logos to the customer’s inbox.”

How Do I Implement BIMI?

BIMI works alongside other email authentication solutions such as Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC). When a brand has successfully implemented all these, with DMARC at an enforcement policy (p=quarantine, or p=reject), they will be ready to publish a BIMI record.

Can Anyone Implement BIMI?

BIMI is an open standard that anyone can implement if they meet the prerequisites. The first step is to implement DMARC as an enforcement policy, which may require email infrastructure updates to configure the email efforts correctly. Next, you need to properly format the trademarked image/logo file (tiny-ps). Note that most mailbox providers need a valid Verified Mark Certificate (VMC). Some mailbox providers will accept a self-asserted logo for domains that have a good reputation and meet other service requirements.

Currently, only brands registered in the USA, Canada, EU, Germany, Japan, UK, Spain and Australia are eligible for BIMI implementation.

What is in a BIMI Record?

BIMI records have three parts:

‘v=BIMI1’: The type of record

‘l=’: The hosted logo location, https://path.to/file/image.svg

‘a=’: The hosted VMC file, https://pat.to/file/certificate.pem

Where Do I Configure BIMI?

The BIMI standard says that the proper BIMI record be published under the following DNS path ‘default._bimi.domain.com’ as a text record. This should feel familiar to many as it is similar to DMARC and DKIM. The values of the record will look as follows when using a VMC:

“v=BIMI1; l=https://path.to/file/image.svg; a=https://pat.to/file/certificate.pem;”

or for a self-asserted record something like this:

“v=BIMI1; l=https://path.to/file/image.svg; a=;”

About the Author:

Matthew Vernhout is VP of Deliverability at Netcore Cloud, a customer engagement and experience platform that helps brands create exceptional digital experiences. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog on Netcore Cloud and was reprinted with permission.

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