What is a BIMI Record? Helping You Create a BIMI Record (Boom!)

what is a bimi record?

Introduction to BIMI

In today’s digital landscape, email remains one of the most critical channels for businesses to communicate with their customers, partners, and stakeholders. However, the prevalence of email fraud, phishing scams, and spoofing attacks has made it increasingly difficult for recipients to trust the authenticity of the emails they receive. This is where BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) comes into play.

What is a BIMI Record?

BIMI is a mailbox authentication standard that allows organisations to display their verified brand logo and email messages in the recipient’s inbox. By implementing BIMI, companies can enhance brand visibility, build trust with their audience, and improve email engagement rates. BIMI works in conjunction with existing email authentication protocols like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) to provide an additional layer of email security and authenticity.

How “Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) Works

When an email is sent from a domain that has implemented BIMI, the receiving email service provider (ESP) checks for a BIMI record in the sender’s DNS (Domain Name System). This record contains information about the brand’s logo. Additionally, the BIMI record references a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC), which is a digital certificate that verifies the authenticity of the brand’s logo. If the email passes the authentication checks and the BIMI record is valid, the ESP displays the brand’s logo alongside the email in the recipient’s inboxes.

A verified brand logo next to an email provides a strong visual cue to the recipient, assuring them that the message is legitimate and originates from the claimed sender. This increased trust can lead to higher open rates, better engagement, and a reduced risk of falling victim to email-based scams.

History of BIMI

The Need for Email Authentication and Security

Email has been a prime target for fraudsters and cybercriminals since its inception. Phishing scams, spoofing attacks, and email impersonation have become increasingly sophisticated, making it difficult for recipients to distinguish between legitimate and malicious emails. This has led to a growing need for robust email authentication and security measures to protect businesses and consumers from email-based threats.

Development of BIMI Standard

BIMI was developed as a collaborative effort by various industry players, including email service providers, security vendors, and brands. This collective effort addressed the challenges of email authentication and security, demonstrating the industry’s commitment to protecting businesses and consumers from email-based threats.

The development of BIMI began in 2015 with the formation of the AuthIndicators Working Group. This group, consisting of representatives from prominent companies like Google, Verizon Media (now Verizon Media Group), LinkedIn, and Validity, among others, worked together to define the BIMI standard and its implementation guidelines.

Key Milestones and Adoption

Since its inception, BIMI has gained significant traction in the email industry. In 2019, Google announced its support for BIMI in its email services, including Gmail. This move was an important milestone for the standard, as Gmail is one of the most widely used email platforms worldwide. Other major email providers, such as Verizon Media Group (Yahoo, AOL) and Fastmail, have adopted BIMI, increasing its reach and impact.

In 2020, the AuthIndicators Working Group released the BIMI Implementer’s Draft, providing detailed guidelines for organisations looking to implement BIMI in their email systems. The draft outlines the technical requirements, best practices, and steps to deploy BIMI successfully.

As more organisations recognise the benefits of BIMI in enhancing email security, brand visibility, and user trust, the adoption of the standard is not only expected but already showing significant growth. This widespread adoption is a testament to the effectiveness and reliability of BIMI, providing businesses and consumers with a safer and more trustworthy email ecosystem.

Benefits of Implementing BIMI

Implementing BIMI offers several significant benefits to organisations, ranging from increased brand visibility and trust to improved email engagement and security.

*Image courtesy of Showwcase

Increased Brand Visibility and Recognition

One of BIMI’s primary benefits is its increased brand visibility. Organisations can make their emails stand out in the recipient’s inbox by displaying a verified brand logo alongside them. This visual cue helps recipients quickly recognise and associate the email with the sender’s brand, improving brand recognition and recall.

Enhanced Email Security and Trust

BIMI works with existing email authentication protocols to provide an additional layer of security and trust. When recipients see a verified brand logo next to an email, they can be confident that the message is legitimate and comes from the claimed sender. This increased trust can help reduce the risk of phishing scams and other email-based threats.

Improved Email Engagement and Open Rates

A verified brand logo in the inbox can significantly improve email engagement and open rates. Recipients are likelier to open and interact with emails with recognisable and trusted brand logos. This increased engagement can lead to better conversions, higher customer satisfaction, and stronger relationships between the brand and its audience.

Protecting Against Email Spoofing and Phishing Attacks

By requiring strict email authentication and verification, BIMI helps protect organisations and their customers from email spoofing and phishing attacks. Fraudsters and cyber criminals often impersonate well-known brands to trick recipients into divulging sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. With BIMI in place, it becomes much more challenging for attackers to successfully impersonate a brand, as they would need to pass rigorous authentication checks and obtain a verified mark certificate.

Building Trust with Customers and Email Recipients

Trust is crucial in any business relationship, and BIMI helps organisations build and maintain trust with their customers and email recipients. Companies can demonstrate their commitment to security, authenticity, and transparency by consistently displaying a verified brand logo in their email communications. This trust can translate into increased customer loyalty, engagement, and a more substantial overall brand reputation.

BIMI and Other Visual Email Branding Techniques

BIMI is not the only visual email branding technique available. Other methods include:

  1. Email sender logos: Some email providers allow organisations to upload a logo next to the sender’s name in the inbox. However, these logos are not verified and do not offer the same level of authenticity as BIMI.
  2. Favicons: Favicons are small icons next to a website’s URL in the browser’s address bar. While favicons can be used in email, they are not tied to email authentication and do not provide the same trust and security benefits as BIMI.

BIMI Requirements and Setup

To successfully implement BIMI, organisations must meet several technical requirements and follow setup procedures.

DNS Records and Verification

The first step in setting up BIMI is to create a BIMI DNS record for the organisation’s domain. This record contains information about the brand’s logo and its associated Verified Mark Certificate (VMC). The BIMI DNS record is typically a TXT record added to the domain’s DNS configuration.

DMARC Alignment and Enforcement

BIMI relies on DMARC authentication and security. Organisations must have a valid DMARC record and maintain a DMARC enforcement policy of either “quarantine” or “reject”. Only authenticated emails can display the brand’s logo in the recipient’s inbox.

SPF and DKIM Authentication

In addition to DMARC, organisations must have appropriately configured SPF and DKIM records. SPF (Sender Policy Framework) specifies the IP addresses authorised to send emails on behalf of the domain, while DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) uses cryptographic signatures to verify the authenticity and integrity of email messages.

VMC (Verified Mark Certificate)

Organisations must obtain a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) to display a brand logo via BIMI. A VMC is a digital certificate that verifies the ownership and authenticity of the brand’s logo.

Obtaining a VMC

To obtain a VMC, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a Certificate Authority (CA) that issues VMCs. Some popular CAs that offer VMCs include DigiCert, Entrust, and GlobalSign.
  2. Prepare your brand logo in SVG format, ensuring it meets the required specifications (e.g., size, colour, transparency).
  3. Gather the necessary documentation to prove your organisation’s identity and trademark ownership. This may include legal documents, trademark registration certificates, and other relevant information.
  4. Submit your VMC application to the chosen CA, providing the required documentation and paying any associated fees.
  5. The CA will review your application and perform the necessary validation checks. Depending on the CA and the complexity of your application, this process may take several days to a few weeks.
  6. Once your application is approved, the CA will issue your VMC, which you can use to configure your BIMI records and implement BIMI for your organisation.

VMC Validation Process

The VMC validation process typically involves several steps, including:

  1. Verifying the organisation’s legal identity and trademark ownership
  2. Ensuring that the submitted logo meets the required technical specifications
  3. Checking the logo for any potential infringement or misuse
  4. Issuing the VMC upon successful completion of the verification process

SVG Logo File Preparation

To be displayed correctly via BIMI, the brand logo must be in SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format. Organisations should ensure that their SVG logo file meets the following requirements:

  1. The SVG file should be formatted appropriately and comply with the SVG 1.1 specification
  2. The logo should be designed to be legible and recognisable in various sizes
  3. The SVG file should not contain any external dependencies or embedded content
  4. The logo should have a transparent background to ensure compatibility with different email clients

Implementing BIMI

Once the requirements are met, organisations can implement BIMI in their email systems.

BIMI Deployment Checklist

To ensure a smooth and successful BIMI deployment, organisations should follow a checklist that includes:

  1. Verifying that all email authentication protocols (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) are correctly configured and enforced
  2. Obtaining a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) for the brand logo
  3. Creating a BIMI DNS record with the correct information and formatting
  4. Testing the BIMI implementation to ensure that the logo is displayed correctly in various email clients

Configuring BIMI Records

The BIMI DNS record is a TXT record that contains information about the brand logo and its associated VMC. The record should be added to the organisation’s DNS configuration with the following format:default._bimi.[domain] IN TXT "v=BIMI1; l=[logo_url]; a=[VMC_url];"

Where:

  • [domain] is the organisation’s domain name
  • [logo_url] is the URL of the SVG logo file
  • [VMC_url] is the URL of the Verified Mark Certificate

Testing and Troubleshooting

After configuring the BIMI record, organisations should thoroughly test their BIMI implementation to ensure the logo is displayed correctly in various email clients. Common issues that may arise during testing include:

  1. Incorrect DNS record formatting or information
  2. Improperly formatted SVG logo files
  3. Issues with email authentication protocols (SPF, DKIM, DMARC)
  4. Compatibility issues with certain email clients

Organizations should work closely with their IT teams and email service providers to troubleshoot and resolve any issues that may arise during the testing phase.

Integrating BIMI with Existing Email Infrastructure

To ensure a seamless integration of BIMI with the organization’s existing email infrastructure, it is essential to:

  1. Coordinate with the IT team and email service providers to ensure proper configuration and compatibility
  2. Update any relevant documentation and processes to include BIMI requirements and procedures
  3. Train staff on the importance and benefits of BIMI and how it fits into the organization’s overall email security strategy

Updating BIMI Records for Logo Changes or Rebranding

In the event of a logo change or rebranding, organizations must update their BIMI records to reflect the new logo. This process involves:

  1. Obtaining a new Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) for the updated logo
  2. Updating the BIMI DNS record with the new logo URL and VMC information
  3. Testing the updated BIMI implementation to ensure proper display of the new logo

By following these implementation steps and best practices, organizations can successfully deploy BIMI and realise the benefits of increased brand visibility, trust, and email engagement.

BIMI Adoption and Support

As BIMI continues to gain traction in the email industry, more email providers and organizations are adopting the standard to enhance their email security and brand recognition.

Email Providers Supporting BIMI (*Last updated: April 2024)

Several major email providers have already implemented support for BIMI, with more expected to follow suit:

  1. Verizon Media Group (Yahoo, AOL)
  2. Fastmail
  3. Apple (iOS 16 and macOS Ventura)
  4. Google
  5. Cloudmark
  6. LA Poste
  7. Onet Poczta
  8. Yahoo!
  9. Zone

As more email providers recognize the benefits of BIMI, it is expected that the list of supporters will continue to grow, making BIMI an increasingly important standard in the email ecosystem.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Many organizations across various industries have successfully implemented BIMI and have seen significant improvements in their email performance and brand recognition. Some notable success stories include:

  1. Bank of America: After implementing BIMI, Bank of America observed a 35% increase in email open rates and a 20% reduction in email-related customer support inquiries.
  2. Groupon: By deploying BIMI, Groupon increased email engagement by 15% and reduced bounce rates by 10%, improving customer satisfaction and retention.
  3. American Red Cross: The American Red Cross successfully used BIMI to increase brand visibility and trust during critical emergency communication campaigns, resulting in higher donation rates and volunteer engagement.

These case studies demonstrate the tangible benefits organisations can achieve by adopting BIMI and highlight the standard’s growing importance in the email industry.

Best Practices for BIMI Implementation

To maximise the benefits of BIMI, organisations should follow a set of best practices during the implementation process and beyond.

Logo Design Considerations

When designing a logo for BIMI, organisations should consider the following:

  1. Clarity and legibility at various sizes
  2. Consistent branding across all digital channels
  3. Adherence to BIMI technical specifications (SVG format, transparent background, etc.)
  4. Regular review and updating of the logo to ensure relevance and effectiveness

Maintaining BIMI Records

To ensure the ongoing success of BIMI, organisations must maintain accurate and up-to-date BIMI records. This involves:

  1. Regularly monitoring the BIMI DNS record for any errors or inconsistencies
  2. Updating the BIMI record whenever there are changes to the logo or VMC
  3. Collaborating with the IT team and email service providers to ensure proper maintenance and support

Monitoring BIMI Performance

Organisations should continuously monitor their BIMI implementation’s performance to identify areas for improvement and optimise their email strategy. Key metrics to track include:

  1. Email open and engagement rates
  2. Brand visibility and recognition
  3. Customer trust and satisfaction
  4. Reduction in email-related security incidents (phishing, spoofing, etc.)

By regularly analysing these metrics, organisations can make data-driven decisions to refine their BIMI implementation and maximise its impact.

Consistent Branding Across Email Communications

To fully leverage the benefits of BIMI, organisations should ensure consistent branding across all their email communications. This includes:

  1. Using the same verified logo across all email campaigns and templates
  2. Maintaining a consistent brand voice and messaging in email content
  3. Ensuring that email designs align with the organisation’s overall brand guidelines

Consistent branding helps reinforce the organisation’s identity, builds trust with recipients, and enhances the overall effectiveness of the BIMI implementation.

Educating Customers and Stakeholders about BIMI

To maximise the impact of BIMI, organisations should educate their customers and stakeholders about the standard and its benefits. This can be achieved through:

  1. Clear communication about the presence of the verified logo in emails
  2. Explanations of how BIMI enhances email security and trust
  3. Encouraging feedback and engagement from customers on their BIMI experience

By actively promoting BIMI and its benefits, organisations can foster a more informed and engaged audience, leading to stronger relationships and increased brand loyalty.

Challenges and Limitations of BIMI Implementation

While BIMI offers numerous benefits, organisations should be aware of some potential challenges and limitations:

  1. Ongoing maintenance: BIMI requires regular monitoring and updating of DNS records and brand logos to ensure consistent performance and accuracy.
  2. Email provider support: BIMI’s effectiveness relies on email providers supporting the standard. While major providers like Google and Verizon Media Group have adopted BIMI, some providers may not yet support it, limiting its reach.
  3. Resource investment: Implementing BIMI requires time, expertise, and financial resources, which may be challenging for some organisations, particularly smaller ones with limited resources.
  4. BIMI and other visual email branding techniques: Add a new subsection under the “Introduction to BIMI” section:

Future of BIMI and Email Authentication

As the email landscape continues to evolve, BIMI is expected to play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of email authentication and security.

BIMI Roadmap and Upcoming Developments

The AuthIndicators Working Group, responsible for developing and maintaining the BIMI standard, has outlined a roadmap for the future of BIMI. Some of the critical upcoming developments include:

  1. Expansion of BIMI support among email providers and clients
  2. Incorporation of BIMI into existing email authentication frameworks and protocols
  3. Development of additional features and functionalities to enhance the BIMI experience
  4. Collaboration with industry partners to promote the adoption and standardisation of BIMI

BIMI is poised to become an integral part of the email authentication landscape as these developments unfold, providing a more secure and trustworthy email experience for organisations and users alike.

Integration with Other Email Security Standards

BIMI is designed to work with existing email authentication standards, such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. As these standards continue to evolve and new ones emerge, BIMI will likely integrate and adapt to ensure compatibility and interoperability.

For example, the DMARC Reporting Schema (DRS) will provide more granular and actionable insights into email authentication performance. BIMI can leverage these insights by integrating with DRS to optimise its implementation and effectiveness.

Furthermore, as email providers and industry partners collaborate to develop new email security technologies and best practices, BIMI will continue to play a crucial role in promoting a more secure and trustworthy email ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about BIMI

  1. What is the difference between BIMI and other email authentication standards like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC? BIMI builds upon the foundation of SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to provide an additional layer of visual authentication and brand recognition. While SPF, DKIM, and DMARC focus on verifying email messages’ authenticity and integrity, BIMI adds a verified brand logo to enhance trust and engagement.
  2. Is BIMI mandatory for all organisations? No, BIMI is a voluntary standard that organisations can choose to implement. However, as more email providers and users recognise its benefits, it is becoming increasingly important for organizations to consider adopting the standard to stay competitive and secure in the email landscape.
  3. How long does it take to implement BIMI? The implementation timeline for BIMI varies depending on factors such as the organisation’s existing email authentication setup, the complexity of its email infrastructure, and the availability of resources. On average, the process can take a few weeks to a few months, including the time required to obtain a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) and configure the necessary DNS records.
  4. What are the costs associated with implementing BIMI? The main costs associated with BIMI implementation include obtaining a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) and potentially engaging with email security experts or consultants to assist with the setup process. The cost of a VMC varies depending on the Certificate Authority (CA) and the level of validation required. Some CAs offer VMCs starting at a few hundred dollars annually, while more comprehensive validation services can cost several thousand dollars.
  5. Can BIMI prevent all email-related security threats? While BIMI is essential in enhancing email security and trust, it is not a standalone solution to avoid all email-related security threats. BIMI combines with other email authentication standards, security best practices, and user education to create a comprehensive email security strategy.

Resources for Further Reading

To learn more about BIMI and stay up-to-date with the latest developments, check out these resources:

  1. BIMI Group – The official website of the BIMI working group provides information, resources, and updates on the standard.
  2. BIMI Implementer’s Guide—This is the official guide for implementing BIMI, covering technical requirements, best practices, and more.
  3. BIMI Radar—This blog is dedicated to BIMI and features news, insights, and case studies on the standard’s adoption and impact.

Wrapping up

Recap of BIMI Benefits and Importance

BIMI is a robust email authentication standard offering numerous benefits to organisations and email users. BIMI enhances brand visibility, builds trust, and improves email engagement by displaying a verified brand logo alongside email messages. Additionally, BIMI helps protect against email spoofing and phishing attacks, promoting a more secure email ecosystem.

As the email landscape evolves, BIMI is becoming an increasingly important tool for organisations to differentiate themselves, build stronger relationships with their audience, and maintain a competitive edge in the digital marketplace.

Encouragement for Adoption

Given the significant benefits and growing importance of BIMI, we strongly encourage organisations to consider adopting the standard as part of their email authentication and security strategy. By investing in BIMI implementation, organisations can:

  1. Enhance their brand reputation and visibility
  2. Build trust and credibility with their email recipients
  3. Improve email engagement and conversion rates
  4. Protect against email-related security threats
  5. Stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving email landscape

As more organisations adopt BIMI and more email providers support the standard, the collective benefits for the entire email ecosystem will continue to grow. By working together to promote the widespread adoption of BIMI, we can create a more secure, trustworthy, and engaging email experience for all.

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