BIMI Lite: Group Works To Open It Up To Brands Without Registered Trademarks

Frustrated because you can’t get your logo into inboxes via BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification)? Your worries may be over: BIMI is opening the door to more entities.  

“We’re trying to make it as broad as possible,” says Seth Blank, chair of the AuthIndicators Working Group that developed BIMI, and chief technology officer of Valimail. 

Why not before this? 

“We had to get out of the gate, understand the security footprint, of how it worked and why and what tradeoffs were,” Blank says. 

The basis of BIMI remains the same as it was when launched in 2018: Brands have to have DMARC (Domain Message Authentication Reporting And Confirmation) protection in place to send authenticated emails. Those that do can place their logos into subject lines. 

Many vendors offer DMARC services, and Blank’s company Valimail has launched a self-service product that helps marketers use DMARC “without heavy professional services agreements,” he says. 



The problem is not so much with DMARC, but with trademarks. The BIMI group found that the highest possible bar -- a government-registered trademark — was simply “too high a bar for most businesses,” Blank says.  

Companies have to go through a vetting process to get a certified mark certificate. So the AuthIndicators Working Group is working on lowering the bar in conjunction with Entrust Datacard and DigiCert. 

Another issue is having the trademark (TM) in the logo. “It’s necessary as a high security bar, but TMs don’t look good in email clients,” Blank notes. 

There’s a lot of work to be done, but there’s also an opportunity. For instance, “every tax accountancy in the world should be protecting their emails”—they contain  everything from Social Security numbers to tax actions, Blank says.

Blank says there are a few thousand authenticated users. But Litmus reports in a study that only 15% of firms have implemented BIMI. 

However, a big boost to BIMI came last summer when Gmail rolled it out in all its inboxes. 

How is BIMI working for users? Yahoo conducted a trial with several hundred brands in 2018, and found that brand logos lifted engagement by 10%. Blank says BIMI’s internal research is in line with this.  

What about the changes wrought by Apple Mail Privacy Protection, like the decline of the open rate as a metric? 

Blank recognizes the change, but says that open rates in general tend to be problematic, and “over-inflated due to a lot of reasons people don’t understand. If you send one with links, those links get crawled to see what’s on other side. Unsubscribe links get crawled, and a lot of data is shared very publicly.”

One more question: Who’s paying for BIMI? Members of the companies developing the standard are contributing their time and human resources. 



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