Anything online services can do to increase trust and security should be viewed as a positive, and Gmail’s latest security enhancement doesn’t get much more basic: it adds brand logos to emails.
It may sound simple, but in order for a brand to have their logo approved for use in Gmail requires a number of enhanced security measures be taken first. As Google explains on its Cloud blog, Gmail is adding support for the Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) standard, which enables brand-controlled logos to appear in supporting email clients.
In order for a brand to qualify, any emails they send must use Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) for authentication. With DMARC implemented, Google will validate the ownership of a particular logo and pass it through an anti-abuse checks system. If the brand passes, the logo will only then be allowed to appear next to emails and “in existing avatar slots in the Gmail UI.” You can see an example using the CNN brand logo in the image above.
According to Seth Blank, Chair of the AuthIndicators Working Group, and Vice President, Standards and Technologies at Valimail, “For organizations that want to create a trusted brand presence over email, BIMI is a great opportunity, incentivizing them to implement strong authentication, which in turn will lead to a safer, more trusted email ecosystem for everyone.”
For end users, it should mean a more colorful Gmail inbox, assuming you allow a number of brands to email you. However, it won’t happen immediately. Google is slowly rolling out BIMI support as a pilot “in the coming weeks,” and for a limited number of senders. In the meantime, Google is urging organizations to adopt DMARC authentication as a priority and in time for when BIMI support in Gmail eventually moves from pilot to a standard feature.