Brand Indicators For Message Identification: Best Practices

Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) is a new standard that aims to bring better brand recognition and trust to the email world. It allows your company to display your branded logo next to your emails in recipients’ inboxes. BIMI makes emails more visually appealing, helps recipients identify the sender and reduces the risk of phishing attacks.

BIMI works by linking an email sender’s domain with a verified logo from a publicly accessible repository. Email clients and email service providers (ESPs) can then retrieve and display the logo alongside an email message, making it more recognizable and trustworthy. To implement BIMI, companies must pass a strict verification process and have their logos hosted on a BIMI-compatible repository.

This article will review Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) in detail, including its benefits, best practices, and prerequisites for implementation.

Summary of key Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) benefits

Before we dive into the technologies that make BIMI work, it’s important to emphasize why BIMI is such a powerful addition to the already crowded space of email security protocols.

Benefit Description
Visibility Your logo makes your emails “stick out” in inboxes.
Trust Recipients can trust your email more when they know your logo is verified with a VMC and your domain has DMARC.
Open rate Users are more comfortable opening emails with verified branding and are more likely to notice the emails in the first place.
Safety The presence of a BIMI logo makes it harder for phishing emails to impersonate you without looking suspicious.
Identifiability Your emails are more identifiable with your brand thanks to the logo.

How Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) works

BIMI links an email sender’s domain to a verified logo stored in a publicly accessible repository. Email clients and service providers then retrieve and display the logo alongside an email message, providing a visual appeal and making it easier for recipients to recognize the sender.

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The process of implementing BIMI involves verifying the email sender’s domain, as well as the logo that will be associated with that domain. The strict verification process ensures that only legitimate trademarked logos are displayed in email inboxes. This strictness is what makes your BIMI branded emails trustworthy.

Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) ecosystem and architecture

A plethora of accompanying protocols make BIMI possible. For example, if spammers could forge emails from your domain, BIMI would actually make the phishing problem worse

Benefits of Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI)

BIMI provides several benefits to both email senders and recipients. One of the main benefits of BIMI is improved brand recognition. Integrating an organization’s logo into email authentication records creates a more visually appealing and recognizable email, increasing the chances of a recipient recognizing the sender. This can lead to increased engagement and better open rates for email marketers.

Another benefit of BIMI is the reduction of phishing attacks. Phishing attacks are a major concern in the email world. BIMI helps reduce the risk of these attacks by making it easier for recipients to recognize the sender and verify that the email is legitimate. With a verified logo displayed in the email message, recipients can easily identify the sender, reducing the likelihood of falling for a phishing attack.

Furthermore, The strict verification process ensures that only verified logos are displayed, reducing the risk of fraud and malicious activity. BIMI also requires that email messages are signed with DMARC.

Overall, BIMI provides a way for organizations to enhance the visual appeal of their emails and improve brand recognition. BIMI can lead to increased engagement, better open rates, and a safer email experience for all.

Best practices for Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI)

Now that we’ve covered what BIMI is, let’s review some essential BIMI best practices. 

Automating BIMI and DMARC

Automating BIMI eliminates the need for manual intervention, which can be time-consuming and error-prone. The platform automates the entire process, from validating that the logo meets BIMI standards to publishing the BIMI record in the domain’s DNS. This ensures that the BIMI implementation is consistent and accurate, which is important for maintaining the brand’s reputation and protecting against phishing and other email-based attacks.

Services like Valimail Amplify provide ongoing management and monitoring of the BIMI records. This includes checking for changes in the BIMI record or the logo, and automatically updating the record as needed. This helps organizations to maintain their BIMI implementation and ensure that it remains up-to-date and accurate over time.

Email security best practices

BIMI is just a small subset of email security.  Securing email is a big task, from general online safety to more sophisticated technologies like DMARC. Here are ten essential email security best practices to consider in conjunction with BIMI:

  1. Use strong and unique passwords, and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for all email accounts.
  2. Keep software and systems up to date with the latest security patches and updates.
  3. Regularly monitor email logs for suspicious activity, such as unusual login attempts or sudden spikes in email volume.
  4. Implement email encryption to protect sensitive information in transit and at rest.
  5. Block or restrict the use of executable file attachments, such as .exe, .vbs, or .msi files, which can be used to spread malware.
  6. Use anti-spam and anti-virus filters to block unwanted or malicious emails.
  7. Train employees to recognize and avoid phishing emails, and provide them with guidelines for safe email usage.
  8. Regularly backup important data and email messages to ensure that they can be recovered in the event of a security breach.
  9. Implement DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance), SPF (Sender Policy Framework), and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) to authenticate email and protect against phishing and other email-based attacks.
  10. Regularly review and update security policies and procedures to ensure they are current and effective.

Implementing these best practices can help to reduce the risk of email-based security incidents and protect organizations against data breaches, phishing attacks, and other email-related threats.

You can get more in-depth instructions in our Email Security Best Practices guide.

BIMI prerequisites 

Deploying BIMI requires more than merely writing a BIMI record. To help clarify what’s required, let’s review the steps for a successful BIMI deployment.

To deploy BIMI, there are a five basic prerequisites:

  1. VMC (Verified Mark Certificate): A VMC is a digital certificate that verifies the authenticity of a brand’s logo and establishes the association between the brand and the logo. You must obtain a VMC from a trusted certificate authority (CA) for most email platforms to display your BIMI logo.
  2. Correctly formatted logo: The logo used for BIMI must meet specific technical requirements, such as being a scalable vector graphic (SVG) file and meeting size and aspect ratio requirements. The logo must also comply with any legal or trademark restrictions.
  3. Web server: The logo must be accessible from a publicly accessible web server, as the BIMI record will reference the URL where the logo is hosted.
  4. DNS (Domain Name System) record: The BIMI record must be published in the domain’s DNS and include the VMC, the logo URL, and other required information. The BIMI record must be properly formatted and configured to meet the BIMI standards.
  5. Email authentication: The organization’s email domain must be properly authenticated using DMARC, SPF, and DKIM to ensure that BIMI-enabled email clients can verify the authenticity of emails from that domain.

By meeting these prerequisites, organizations can deploy BIMI and take advantage of its benefits, such as increased brand visibility and reduced risk of phishing and other email-based attacks.

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Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) is a new standard that brings a new level of trust and recognition to the email world. It allows organizations to embed their logos in authentication records, providing a visual appeal to the emails and making it easier for recipients to recognize the sender. BIMI has benefits for both email marketers who can improve their brand recognition.

To utilize BIMI to its full potential, organizations must undergo a strict verification process and have their logos hosted on a BIMI-compatible repository. This ensures that the logos displayed are trustworthy and recognized by email clients and ESPs. By adopting BIMI, organizations can enhance the visual appeal of their emails, improve brand recognition, and provide a safer email experience for recipients.

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