What Is BIMI? (Brand Indicators for Message Identification)
"A Picture is worth a thousand words" - Fred R. Barnard
"A picture is worth a thousand words" is the easiest way to explain why BIMI is a must-do for any brand. A visual, a graphic image conveys a lot more than words - BIMI does exactly that.
Let's start with Why BIMI?
You get to put your logo in your customers' inboxes. You get immediate brand recognition and customer confidence that the email was genuinely from you.
BIMI puts your logo right in your customer's inbox, and since end users see your official logo next to your email, they can be sure that they have received an 'authenticated' or 'genuine' email from you, and it is not a spoofed email or a phishing email.
Your logo is your identity, and you own the trademark, and with the help of a "Verified Mark Certificate" (VMC), it can only be used by your organisation.
BIMI assures users that an email bearing your logo is genuine because there are multiple ways in which spoofing/impersonation/brand forgery occurs today - the BIMI logo is a visual re-confirmation that you genuinely sent the email to the user.
Specifically if the email pertains to a transaction, a financial matter, a bill or an invoice that needs paying, or an email containing sensitive information - the more re-assurance the customer has the better. Most people rely on visual cues, and BIMI's brand indicators help you brand visually re-assure the user of the authenticity of your email communication with them.
Next up, What is BIMI?
"Brand Indicators for Message Identification or BIMI (pronounced: Bih-mee) is 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. For the brand’s logo to be displayed, the email must pass DMARC authentication checks, ensuring that the organization’s domain has not been impersonated." - Official definition Courtesy - Bimigroup.org
In plain language, BIMI is an email specification that lets you put your logo as an avatar in your genuine emails. For this, you need to ensure that your 'genuine' emails can be verified or authenticated.
If not, then you cannot leverage the power of BIMI. For this you need DMARC.
WTH is DMARC now?
Hang on, it is not that complex. DMARC is short for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance. DMARC is an email authentication protocol, that is itself dependent on SPF and DKIM. SPF is short for Sender Policy Framework and DKIM is short for Domain Keys Identified Mail.
Wait, that's just too many technical words, and this is not how I intended it to be, but this is how it is, unfortunately. But let me simplify that for you:
1. SPF helps you specify what email servers are allowed to send emails in your name.
2. DKIM helps you ensure your emails have not been tampered with, using cryptography.
3. DMARC helps you ensure that your 'authenticated' emails are delivered to the inbox, and any spoofed/impersonated emails using your domain name are quarantined or rejected. The important thing is that you can control what happens to those that fail tests of authentication!
And in this sequence, there is BIMI now, which puts your logo in your email, IF your emails are authentic and not tampered with, AND you have set up a DMARC record that specifies that non-genuine emails be quarantined or rejected - your logo will show up on your emails.
Note: BIMI does not work without DMARC. NO DMARC = NO BIMI.