Read Time: 6 min

What Is BIMI (And Why Should Email Marketers Care?)

Email marketers are on a constant search for a trick that gives better visibility in the inbox, and gets their message opened. No such solution exists—but Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI for short) is an emerging email standard that can help.

Let’s dig in and see how it works.

What is BIMI?

Ever noticed how some brands have their logo displayed next to their message in the inbox? The logo that appears is known as a verified sender logo.

example showing brand with verified sender logo and brand without verified sender logo
Source: Litmus’ Getting Started with BIMI Guide

In short, BIMI allows you to display a sender logo alongside your messages in the inbox, when verified under a set of BIMI specifications.

“BIMI is an emerging email specification that enables the use of brand-controlled logos within supporting email clients.” BIMI Group

BIMI can help boost your brand’s visibility, build brand recognition, and reinforce trust. It was created to help prevent fraudulent emails, and in a world where phishing and email scams are on the rise, it’s imperative to establish trust with subscribers. 

BIMI is a way to verify information about your brand. Like DMARC, DKIM, and SPF—three methods for verifying sender information—BIMI is a text record that lives on your servers. In fact, it works right alongside SPF, DMARC, and DKIM to signal to email clients that you are you. As such, BIMI aids in deliverability, too.

example of BIMI sender logo
Source: Litmus’ Getting Started with BIMI Guide

While a number of email clients already try to pull your logo into the inbox, you don’t currently have a lot of control over which logo or imagery they collect. With BIMI, however, you have direct control over what logo is displayed—allowing you to keep control over your brand and subscriber’s experience, creating trust in the process.

Different methods of verifying senders and using logos have been around for years, but the first formalized spec for BIMI was published in February 2019. The original creators have since formed the AuthIndicators Working Group to formalize and promote BIMI throughout the industry. Over the last couple of years, the working group has been joined by the likes of Fastmail, Google, Mailchimp, Proofpoint, Twilio SendGrid, Validity, Valimail, and Verizon Media (which owns Yahoo Mail).

What mailbox providers support BIMI?

BIMI support includes several major inbox service provider (ISP) providers—like Gmail, and Verizon Media Group (Yahoo, AOL, Netscape). But in June 2022, there was an update: Apple Mail was added to the list. Its developer support page explains how they will support BIMI and which OSs will be supported.

 

Here’s a list of BIMI support by mailbox provider, as of July 2022:

BIMI support chart
Source: BIMI Group

Here are the mailbox providers that currently support BIMI:

  • Yahoo (excluding Yahoo Japan)
  • AOL
  • Netscape
  • Gmail
  • Google Workspace
  • Fastmail
  • Pobox

Mailbox providers considering BIMI include:

  • BTInternet
  • Comcast
  • La Poste
  • Qualitia
  • Seznam
  • Web.de
  • GMX
  • Seznam
  • Yahoo Japan

For the latest BIMI requirements and news, head over to the BIMI working group site.

How will BIMI support for Apple work?

If you’ve already got BIMI implemented, you won’t need to change anything—it’ll work just the same way. According to BIMI, we can expect this in Fall 2022 on MacOS/iOS16.

However, according to Postmark’s early testing of the beta version of iOS16, brand logos won’t be displayed alongside the email in the inbox. It will be displayed after the email is opened.

iPad-screenshot BIMI support in Apple-Mail
Source: Postmark

How does BIMI work?

Like other email authentication standards, BIMI is essentially a text file. That text file follows a specific format and lives on your sending servers.

When a message is delivered, the recipient’s email service looks up the BIMI text file—and where it’s hosted—to ensure that the message can be verified. Once verified, the BIMI file tells the email service where to find the sender’s logo, and the email service pulls that logo into the inbox.

Although the underlying concept of BIMI sounds simple, there are a few key things you’ll need to get BIMI set up:

  • Authentication of your emails with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC
  • Access to your domain name servers to set up a new BIMI DNS entry
  • An SVG file of your logo
  • A Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) optional but recommended

Although not all mailbox providers support BIMI currently, others will likely add BIMI support in the future, especially as privacy measures increase in email. It’s an emerging standard that is still in development, but setting it up now will help you privacy-proof your email program.

Like everything in email, BIMI support is likely to change over time. But, with major names like Google, Verizon Media, and Fastmail involved, it’s likely we’ll see more service providers joining the working group and pilot program over the coming years.

How BIMI benefits email marketers 

Helps builds brand trust

In a world where phishing and email scams are on the rise, it’s imperative that email marketers take measures to continually reinforce trust with their subscribers. 

The underlying goal of BIMI is to make it easy for subscribers to identify trustworthy email senders so they can have confidence in the content in their inbox. When subscribers see your logo next to your messages in supported inboxes, they can immediately trust that it’s an actual email from you (and not a dangerous phishing attempt). Sure, the brand awareness of constantly seeing logos is nice, but the trust that comes along with those logos is where the magic happens.

While it’s still on you to build a relationship with your subscribers by providing value in your email campaigns, BIMI helps you build the foundational trust needed to hit the inbox.

Email deliverability

BIMI can also be beneficial to your email deliverability. Since so much of modern-day deliverability is based on authentication and reputation—rather than email content itself—BIMI will provide yet another mechanism to improve your odds of making it to the inbox.

As we saw earlier, BIMI requires other authentication protocols to be properly set up. For brands not using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, the desire to use BIMI for getting their logos in front of subscribers will force them to follow authentication best practices. Combined, all of these authentication methods will make for more reliable deliverability and a better sender reputation overall.

How to get BIMI set up

Want to get BIMI up and running for your own emails? Head over to our blog post for a how-to on BIMI.

Front cover of Litmus' Getting Started with BIMI guide

Getting Started with BIMI

Check out our guide to getting started with BIMI up and running—and start creating a better experience for your subscribers today.

Dive in


Originally published March 6, 2019 by Jason Rodriguez. Last updated August 4, 2022.