An emerging industry standard will make it easier for consumers to identify authenticated email, while simultaneously giving brands greater control over how their emails appear in consumer inboxes.
It’s called Brand Indicators for Message Identification, or BIMI for short. While it’s still in the planning stages, it has widespread support, with contributions from many of the major providers of email accounts to consumers, including Google, Microsoft, Oath (Yahoo, AOL, and Verizon) and more.
What BIMI outlines, in short, is simple: Senders can provide brand-specific imagery that appears alongside messages they send. These images appear in place of the user photo or the initial letter that many email clients display next to the sender’s name.
In order to use BIMI, senders need to set up email authentication using DMARC with an enforcement policy (quarantine or reject). That ensures that company logos, for instance, only appear next to authenticated emails.
BIMI also includes safeguards to ensure that companies can only display their own logos. It prevents any would-be fraudsters from using a brand’s imagery without its permission.
For brands, this is an opportunity to extend the reach and visibility of their logos or other brand elements. It is also potentially a way to convey a higher degree of trustworthiness in their emails: Only authenticated emails that actually came from the company (or which were sent by an authorized sender) will carry its logo.
For consumers, BIMI, once widely deployed, will provide a way to avoid being ensnared by phishing scams. If an email displays a company’s logo next to the sender, you can be sure it is an authentic email from that company. No logo? Don’t trust it.
Currently plans are underway to begin trials of BIMI starting in Q4 2017. Several major mail clients will display BIMI-supplied images for a small number of whitelisted companies participating in the trials.
Assuming the trials are successful, we expect adoption of BIMI to expand to other email providers in 2018.
Are you a company with a recognized brand that sends a large volume of email? Would you benefit from having your logo appear next to these emails in consumer inboxes? If you’d like to participate in the BIMI trials, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you’re at the messaging industry conference M3AAWG in Toronto next week, look for the panel discussion on BIMI at 3pm Eastern on Tuesday October 3.
Top photo: Cowboys and ranchers use brands to identify their cattle and establish ownership definitively. In the same way, BIMI can help companies brand their emails. Photo credit: Simon Bleasdale/Flickr