Some random BIMI questions (and answers) for May 2023

There are enough BIMI questions floating out there nowadays, that I thought it'd be good timing to put together a BIMI mini-FAQ. If you did not already know, BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) is a way to attach a logo to your email sending domain and with recent Gmail developments (not to mention, Apple support), it's poised to become rather a big thing. And assuming you did know what BIMI was, let's jump right into the FAQ:

What’s that new blue checkmark thing at Gmail? How do I get that?

Gmail recently announced that for senders who implement BIMI, they'll show a little blue checkmark next to the sender's email address, showing that the sender has been validated. You'll get that by implementing BIMI (with a VMC). Read more about that here.

What's a VMC again and where do I get one of those?

VMC means "Verified Mark Certificate" and it's a certification you obtain from DigiCert or Entrust. There is a cost associated with this, and your logo must be trademarked. For more information, click here.

I implemented BIMI but now my Gmail users' profile pictures have disappeared. What do I do?

If you implement BIMI (+VMC) for your email sending domain, the BIMI logo will display in Gmail, instead of the user's Google profile picture. If a recipient moves the mouse over the BIMI logo in Gmail, the user's profile (and profile picture, if extant) will display.

If you want your corporate mail to use Gmail user profile pictures, but have your marketing mail have a BIMI logo, move your marketing mail to a subdomain and implement BIMI for the subdomain, but not for the top level domain.

Can a BIMI logo be animated?

No. The BIMI graphic image has to be a certain type of SVG (Scaled Vector Graphic) format, and has no support for animations or even bitmaps. Find the SVG spec here

If you're not going to implement BIMI+VMC and prefer to create a "fake BIMI" by creating a Google profile with a profile picture, that Google profile picture can be an animated GIF, and it will display animated in Gmail. Kind of neat. But, you won't get the blue checkmark.

Side note: The inclusion of bitmaps in a BIMI logo file (which is allowed in the SVG spec, but not in the BIMI spec) is the most common mistake I see senders make when implementing BIMI. You can't just re-save your PNG bitmap logo as an SVG.

Can't I just fake the blue checkmark by using some sort of check emoji in my friendly from?

Don't try this, unless you really enjoy pain. Google will block messages that contain emoji that look like any sort of user interface identifier or similar. (The seem to block only intermittently, but it's still painful.) Read more about emojis in the friendly from here.

Will implementing BIMI improve my deliverability results?

Not directly, no, but various folks have tested and results seem to indicate that implementing a BIMI logo will result in increased subscriber engagement. Here's a link to such a case study, courtesy of Red Sift.

Will implementing DMARC improve my deliverability results?

Not directly, but the long answer is more nuanced. Find it here.

Do I have to implement DMARC before I can implement BIMI?

Yep. If you don't have DMARC in place, with a policy of quarantine or reject, your BIMI record will be ignored by mailbox providers.

This FAQ is awfully Gmail-centric. What other mailbox providers support BIMI?

Yahoo and Apple are the other big ones. Sadly, there's no Microsoft support. I hope that changes in the future. The list of providers with support for BIMI continues to grow. Polish provider Onet recently implemented BIMI supportHere's a link to my latest "Current ISP Support for BIMI" guide, updated in May, 2023.

And don't forget to check out the home site of BIMI, managed by the AuthIndicators Working Group.

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