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What is BIMI and Why it Matters? (+ How to Apply BIMI for Brand Recognition)

bimi

Do you want to establish trust in email recipients’ inboxes? Are you wondering how subscribers can quickly recognize your brand and authenticate your email messages? 

Email marketing is a fantastic digital marketing asset. But to make it work for your business, you need to build trust with recipients. That means making your brand logo appear as a visible sign to help email recipients recognize your business in their inboxes. 

BIMI is the email tool you need to build brand recognition and trust.

Therefore, this article will cover:

  • What is BIMI?
  • Email clients that support the BIMI-authenticated logo program
  • Why is BIMI important to your business?
  • How BIMI works
  • How to apply BIMI
  • And how to verify your BIMI record configuration

Let us start with the meaning of BIMI;

What is BIMI?

BIMI is an email acronym of “Brand Indicator for Message Identification.” It is a feature that increases an email sender’s trustworthiness by displaying its brand logo next to the email message. 

As stated above, it is a tool that allows brands to make their logo appear. You can see sample company logos in the screenshot below. Those are made possible with BIMI record configuration.

What is BIMI?

The objective is to prevent fraud by email senders who do not observe the SPAM-CAN act and establish the sender’s authenticity. Moreover, it enables users to regulate how their brand is pictured in messaging services and hinders hackers from impersonating a brand identity in emails.

Otherwise stated, BIMI helps verify your brand identity by bringing your company logo to your client’s inbox. That way, it ensures that fraudsters will impersonate your company’s identity.

Email Clients that Support the BIMI Pilot

Although the BIMI solution enhances trust with email subscribers and provides an improved user experience, only a few email providers currently support the authentication system. 

BIMI Pilot

According to BIMI’s report, COMCAST and SEZNAM.CZ are considering joining the pilot. But the following clients are already supporting the BIMI logo-authentication program:

  • Yahoo!
  • AOL.
  • Netscape
  • Fastmail, and 
  • Google’s Gmail

Nevertheless, while only a handful of email clients joined the pilot, any rule of conduct or etiquette that enhances email recipients’ confidence is a worthwhile undertaking.

Why is BIMI Important to Your Business?

Several businesses prefer to communicate with customers and prospects through emails than on social media. And since the pandemic, the use of email marketing for business growth has become more crucial for brand communication. 

Research shows that over 55% of businesses send more emails than before the pandemic.

BIMI

As a result, recipients’ inboxes get flooded with marketing emails, making it challenging to stand out and grab subscribers’ attention. Also, with the increase of Business Email Compromise (BEC) frauds, developing confidence with your email tribe is more complicated.

That’s where BIMI plays a critical role. BIMI (pronounced: Bih-mee) is vital for your business because it uses DMARC email authentication to build credibility with email recipients. The solution provides a tool that certifies a sender’s logo to show up as an avatar alongside the email message.

This approach helps brands to build authenticity with prospects, customers, and other email recipients. For this, BIMI rewards such companies with maximum security (brand protection) and increased email visibility.

Besides, Bih-mee is essential because organizations that use it get fewer bounce spam emails, maximum open emails, and better ROIs. The importance of BIMI cannot be over-emphasized.

The email authentication specification tool helps reduce phishing and impersonation attacks by ensuring that only BIMI-verified logos appear alongside email messages. 

Benefits and use case of BIMI

BIMI offers marketers several significant benefits; a few of them are:

  • An ideal way to guarantee brand recognition
  • Secure email deliverability
  • Prevents phishing and impersonation
  • Stands out in recipients inboxes
  • Put your business in front of receivers
  • Grab recipients attention
  • Higher open emails
  • BIMI uses existing email authentication standards to provide an enhanced user experience (UX)
  • It gives you control over how your official logo appear in consumers inboxes

Speaking of controlling how your avatar/logo appears in a subscriber’s email inbox, marketers find it challenging to manage how their brand logo shows up. Why? Because for several years, avatars shown in users’ inboxes were the standard user interface component. 

They didn’t bring the avatars into conformity with a regulated standard. As a result, some email clients had pre-set symbols by the creators of the email client. And in large part, others depended considerably on websites and social media gravatar data. 

This activity made it increasingly demanding to control how logos appear in email inboxes. But with BIMI, you can control how your organization’s logo shows up in a recipients’ inbox. 

Therefore, whether you’re writing a professional email, tractional, or Woocommerce emails, implementing BIMI records helps you validate your identity in receivers’ inboxes.

How does BIMI (Bih-mee) Work?

BIMI is a text file that exists on your sending email server. Thus, when your email gets delivered, the receiver’s email service will check the BIMI text file and the host location to verify the message. Once it’s confirmed, the Brand Indicator for Message Identification text file notifies the receiver’s email service on how to locate your official logo. 

Then the recipient’s email service will extract your logo and display it in the inbox. But for this tool to work for you, you must implement a 3-step process. 

  • Authenticate your company’s emails with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC 
  • Generate an SVG Tiny PS file of your brand logo (your logo must be in SVG structure)
  • Create and publish a new BIMI record for your domain name in DNS

We will consider the 3-step process in the following subtitle.

How to Implement BIMI for Brand Recognition

Although BIMI configuration seems complicated, the setup process is relatively simple. It is easy, particularly if you’re conversant with DMARC email authentication. DMARC is the acronym for “Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance,” an open technical specification for email validation.

So, if you know this email marketing tool (verification solution) or use it, setting up BIMI will be easy. However, many marketers are new to this program. Therefore, here’s how to implement BIMI for domain name recognition in email recipients’ inboxes.

1. Authenticate your email senders with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC

BIMI is not an alone driver; it works with other email authentication properties to inform recipients that your email messages are trustworthy. Given this, you need to validate your domain configuration with other parties.

The idea is to guarantee that all are appropriately implemented, particularly with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Otherwise, BIMI will not work for you. For instance, the DMARC authentication policy lets users show that SPF and DKIM secure their emails. 

Thus, DMARC certification policy instructs email recipients what action to take, such as to send the message to the junk folder or reject the email if protocols do not protect the sender. That’s why it’s vital to validate all your email senders. 

Consequently, you must do two things:

  • Set DMARC policy for your brand domain to either “p=quarantine” or “p=reject.”
  • Set the subdomain policy to 100%. (No sp=none or pct<100) 

For more information about the DMARC policy and how it works, please read this article.

2. Create a Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG) file for your logo

The primary reason for using BIMI is to make your business logo appear in subscribers’ inboxes and build recognition. Thus, you can add your logo and show up in all email clients that support the BIMI pilot program.

Therefore, after verifying your company’s emails with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, the next is to generate a scaled vector graphic (SVG) tiny PS file of your business or company logo and connect it to your BIMI record. Why? Because the logo image that will show up in a recipient’s inbox must be in SVG portable/secure (PS) format.

The SVG format is standard by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and guarantees that your logo icon appears in the best quality. Nevertheless, ensure to comply with the required elements in the file structure when creating an SVG file for your logo.

Bimi

However, for maximum image compatibility:

  • Your logo image must be a square aspect ratio
  • Center your image for optimal display
  • The SVG document should not exceed 32kb
  • Your image must have a solid background color; avoid transparent backgrounds

When you have these elements in place, upload your file to a public server. But if you find it challenging to convert your image to an SVG file, you can use these SVG conversion tools by BIMI.

3. Create and publish BIMI text record

Since you have successfully configured the elements mentioned above, it’s time to add a BIMI text record to your domain provider. Thus, produce a TXT record for your domain; the process is simple but based on your DNS hosting provider, you may need to ask your DNS admin for help.

Here is the general formation:

default._bimi.[domain] IN TXT “v=BIMI1; l=[SVG URL]; a=[PEM URL]

But what do these elements represent? Let us consider the two most important values:

  • The “Domain“: This element is your brand domain name, such as “yourblog.com/.” It connects with the SVG URL to show up in receivers’ inboxes.
  • SVG URL: This ingredient is the address that will host your brand logo file.
  • PEM URL: Although this field is optional, you can use the PEM URL value to point to your Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) host. At present, only Gmail demands the VMC feature.

That said, let’s create your BIMI records.

Step 1. Generate your BIMI record for brand recognition

The BIMI record is a text line that comprises your logo’s SVG file URL. As stated above, the VMC value only works for Gmail (Gmail requires VMC to show your brand logo, and hopefully, other mail service providers will need it soon).

 Therefore, here are two BIMI record text line examples with and without the VMC:

  1. v=BIMI1;l=https://images.yourblog.com/brand/bimi-logo.svg (This BIMI record example does not include the VMC value).
  2. v=BIMI1;l=https://images.yourblog.com/brand/bimi-logo.svg;a=https://images.yourblog.com/brand/certificate.pem (This line of text sample consists of the VMC value).

Step 2. Insert DNS TXT record for BIMI to your domain provider

This step lets you turn on BIMI for your brand domain recognition. Like I said earlier, the process may vary slightly depending on your DNS host provider. But if you find it challenging, reach out to your admin for help.

Adding your DNS TXT record is a simple 4-step process:

  • Go to your domain host provider and sign in to the management console.
  • Locate the form field for your DNS record and update the text
  • Insert your BIMI record’s text line as shown in step-1 in the form for your DNS record
  • Once added, you have completed the BIMI record configuration process. But it would be best if you verified your BIMI record status. After adding your BIMI records, it’s vital to check the configuration status to confirm that you correctly set up your domain configuration. Hence, your can use your preferred BIMI record lookup tool to diagnose or run checks on your domain name record.

As you can see, it’s a straightforward process that will help you secure your business and boost your email sender reputation. However, after your BIMI records application, you need to confirm that it’s working.

How to Confirm your BIMI Records Configuration

To confirm that your effort paid off, wait 24─48 hours for your logo to appear in your email receivers’ inboxes. That way, you allow enough for BIMI to interact with various data centers. Once this time elapses, use your preferred BIMI lookup software to examine your records.

Here are some of the best BIMI inspection tools:

  • BIMI Inspector
  • Mxtoolbox
  • Agari
  • DMARC Analyze
  • EASYDMARC

You can effortlessly check your domain name with the appropriate tool to determine whether you implemented BIMI records correctly. If it detects configuration issues, the software informs you and shows the problems. It helps improve your email marketing ROIs.

Are You Ready to Implement BIMI for Business?

Applying BIMI records is essential for your email marketing campaign since it increases trust with recipients and improves email deliverability and open rates. 

Also, consider using BIMI records if you want to:

  • Boost email sender reputation
  • Improve click-through & open rates
  • Protect your brand from phishing attacks and
  • Have control over how your company logo appears on recipients inboxes

Nevertheless, although only a handful of web-based email clients currently support the BIMI plot, more will soon embrace this authentication program. Do you have more to say about the use of BIMI? Please, tell us below!

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