BIMI, Andy Warhol and email security in the evolving digital marketing

Data privacy and security is a growing concern for consumers and spans a wide array of subjects from email marketing to data collection. With phishing attacks rising 29% globally, businesses and consumers alike are scrambling for solutions that instill trust.

Enter BIMI. Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) is at its heart a security feature. On its face, BIMI is simply displaying a brands logo next to the 'from' line in the inbox. It presents as simple branding—but really, BIMI is an industry standard that ensures brands are verified.

By verifying and registering a brand's logo with a VMC (Verified Mark Certificate), brands can instill trust with their email subscribers that the messages bearing their logo comes from them, thereby protecting those subscribers from spoofing, phishing and other fraud.

While BIMI helps leverage brand awareness to improve customer relationships, BIMI is an issue of ownership—whoever owns this logo also owns this email message. In addition to acting as a security feature, BIMI has the potential to impact Intellectual Property Rights and related laws.

An emerging email specification

From eliminating the need for proprietary logo management to enhancing the user experience, BIMI brings a slew of benefits. BIMI incentivizes adoption of the Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) protocol.

DMARC is an anti-spoofing protocol which allows senders to monitor mail sent using their domain, identify if that mail is passing or failing authentication and enables them to broadcast instructions to receiving networks on what to do if said mail fails. In essence, for a brand’s logo to be displayed in their emails, the email itself must pass DMARC authentication checks which ensures the brand’s domain hasn’t been impersonated.

While it’s important to note that BIMI is by no means an end-all-be-all security solution, it does require the use of strong email authentication solutions. Both Yahoo and Google already support the implementation of BIMI, and with the launch of iOS 16 Apple is joining their ranks. Brands can learn about the increasingly necessary BIMI adoption here.  

A spoof or not a spoof? That is the question

The concept of spoofing, the idea of imitating something while exaggerating its characteristic features, has been around for decades. Redefining mainstream notions of artistic merit, Andy Warhol and/or Marshall McLuhan’s idea that “art is anything you can get away with” flourishes. Or does it?

In an ironic twist of events, just how much one can get away with when it comes to artistic interpretation is being put to the test in the upcoming SCOTUS case Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith. The case explores whether a work of art is “transformative” when it conveys a different meaning or message from its source material.

Besides making use of “spoofing’s” multiple definitions, with BIMI being in line with anti-spoofing protocol and Andy Warhol’s work spoofing the work of others, what do Warhol and BIMI have to do with each other? For starters, the decision of the case has far-reaching consequences for those who incorporate the works of others into the content they create, which can encompass the artistic creation of logos.

As SCOTUS prepares to decide Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith, the answer to "what is truly transformative" will be defined. Based on this decision, nefarious actors could potentially negate the essence of BIMI (security in messaging) through bad-faith arguments that make arguments for the impersonation of logos if they are deemed as conveying a different message than the source logo used for impersonation twisted as inspiration.

Regardless of the outcome in Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith, stronger email marketing starts with a fundamental understanding of your customer journey. Don’t let deliverability rates slip and bounce back rates skyrocket, Epsilon can help your brand with its email marketing messaging needs. From email architecture that makes use of responsive modules to creating dynamic, personalized experiences, Epsilon has the right knowledge and experience that can help you navigate inbox performance.

If you are looking to learn more about BIMI, don't hesitate to contact us at—we'd be happy to answer any of your questions.