BIMI: A New Approach to Increase Brand Recognition!

Email is growing significantly.  There are more than 3.7 billion users worldwide and each subscriber receives more and more emails from different brands every day. So what? As a sender, it is more challenging than ever for you to not only maximize the number of emails delivered in the inbox, but also to stand out and get your subscribers to take action when they get your messages!

Based on the recent report of DMA – Consumer Email Tracker in 2017, almost half of subscribers have to recognize a sender even before opening their emails. Which may lead you to ask the question, “what can be done to improve recognition?” There are some traditional methods that can help to highlight your brand in your emails such as including the brand’s name into subject lines or email preheaders, having a consistent “friendly-from” address, etc. But now you have access to the new approach, called BIMI, which allows your subscribers to immediately identify your brand by the logo before they open your emails.

What is BIMI?
BIMI stands for Brand Indicators for Message Identification. It is a mechanism that you can use to have your brand’s logo displayed alongside your authenticated messages. This logo image may appear in the place of user photo profile or initial letters that normally many email clients display next to your from address.

Though BIMI has not officially launched yet, it is being driven by several largest mailbox providers and organizations worldwide like Google, Microsoft, Oath (Yahoo, AOL, and Verizon), Comcast, Agari, PayPal and Return Path.

While there are existing ways of doing logo display at some mailbox providers, but each mailbox provider is responsible for sourcing logos differently and manually (i.e. Yahoo pulls logos from social media profiles or Gmail grabs logos from verified Google+ pages), BIMI is meant to be an improvement. It will centralize this as a one-stop shop solution and puts more power into your brand’s hands to get you better control over which logo should be used.

What are the benefits of BIMI?
In addition to providing a centralised method that works across multiple mailbox providers, BIMI also has direct benefits for your email program.

Firstly, if you have implemented BIMI successfully, you will have greater control over how your logo appears in your subscribers’ inboxes. Indeed, it is a low-cost marketing strategy for you to consistently broadcast your brand’s logo to your subscribers via every authenticated message that you send. In return, your subscribers will also enjoy better experience of easily recognising your brand with the logo displayed next to your messages in their inboxes. It is a win-win scenario!

Ultimately, that brand recognition increase can potentially boost open rates, given the right messages were sent to the right subscribers, as subscribers tend to open a message if they know exactly who sent it to them.

Further to helping with legitimate messages sent from good senders, BIMI may also contribute in reducing the number of fraud messages to be read or opened as well. It is a great way to protect your brand image and your subscribers from many spoofing and phishing scams nowadays. How can this help? It is because BIMI connects your brand’s logo to your Domain Name System (DNS) to ensure that you can only display your own brand’s logo for your authenticated messages and vice versa, spammers will not be able to use your brand’s logo to display in any fraud messages pretending to be sent from your brand.

In the future, once BIMI is widely deployed, I predict that as a brand’s logo becomes increasingly identified with their messages by the subscribers, this will build in additional trust into the email channel. In the other words, I expect subscribers to be able to more easily distinguish legitimate messages with fraud messages by a brand’s logo. No brand’s logo? No trust!

How to implement BIMI?
At this point, the official beta program of BIMI is limited to Oath (Yahoo, AOL, Verizon) only.

If you are ready to move forward with BIMI implementation, then the first step is to ensure that all the messages you send are authenticated properly with The Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) with p=reject policy in place.

The next action should be to identify your preferred brand’s logo and the sending domains associated with that logo.

Finally, you need publish a BIMI Assertion Record via a change to your public Domain Name System (DNS) zone for one or more (up to five) primary brand-related domain names.  That BIMI Assertion Record shall include a reference to an SVG representation to your preferred brand logo. More technical instructions on how to publish a BIMI Assertion Record in DNS can be found here.

Assuming that everything keeps going smoothly and successfully, I would expect BIMI to expand to many other mailbox providers globally soon (although, no specific BIMI launch dates have been announced)!

BIMI Trial?
Are you a Return Path customer and interested in having your brand’s logo displayed for Oath (Yahoo, AOL, Verizon) subscribers? We can help you! Contact your Account Management team today to discuss in more detail as Return Path has been asked to recommend suitable candidates to participate in a BIMI trial at Oath.

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