Google announced its pilot program for the Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) standard, including the usage of Verified Mark Certificates (VMC) this week. This pilot -- the next important phase in promoting widespread adoption of BIMI -- is set to begin in the next several weeks.

As announced in Google's blog, BIMI benefits the whole email ecosystem: it requires strong authentication so that mailbox providers, security systems and end recipients can be more confident about the source of emails, while enabling senders to "provide their customers with a more immersive experience."

The standard for VMCs was developed by the AuthIndicators working group, a group of companies representing the email ecosystem, including mailbox providers, security companies and others who were looking to incentivize adoption of strong email authentication and standardize the way logos are transmitted between systems. Entrust Datacard has played a leading role over the past three years in developing the VMC technical standards, and issued the first VMC in August 2019.

Once the pilot begins, Gmail users will be able to see verified logos in their emails from selected pilot participants. The VMC contains an organization’s logo mark (a registered trademark) which can then automatically be displayed in Gmail -- and eventually other participating email providers.

How the VMC works

VMC's are the highest level of logo verification defined in the BIMI standard. The email sending organization obtains a VMC from a Certification Authority like Entrust Datacard. The organization also needs a "good reputation" and must publish a Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) record at enforcement, and then set up a BIMI DNS record.

Once everything is confirmed and configured correctly, then the emails may automatically display the sender's logo like the hypothetical before-and-after example below.

An artist rendering of how a VMC could display an organization registered trademark logo
chart image

Getting a Verified Mark Certificate

Entrust Datacard will validate the organization and ownership of its logo with the appropriate Trademark Offices, such as the US Patent and Trademark Office. The logo is then included in the VMC with the organization's identity data and cryptographically signed by Entrust Datacard so it can't be altered and is trusted by the email applications.

Entrust Datacard will issue VMCs to a limited number of Pilot Program participants for the next several months to make sure the standard is successful in displaying verified logos in Gmail, and we are looking forward to making this new standard available to all email senders based on a successful pilot.

If you are interested in obtaining a Verified Mark Certificate once they become generally available, send us your request.

Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey is vice president of strategy for Entrust Datacard’s certification authority. Bailey is a co-creator of Extended Validation and Domain Validated Certificates used in SSL/TLS connections. Having served in the industry since 1998, Bailey is a current and founding member of industry standard groups the CA/B Forum and the CA Security Counsel where he continues to actively promote industry best practices and education.