Standing out in the inbox is more difficult than ever, as email marketers are keenly aware. With Verified Mark Certificates (VMCs), marketers can use their trademarked logo as a visual branding element within the email inbox — prior to a click through. Not surprisingly, we’re seeing the adoption of VMCs expand, with new Email Service Providers (ESPs) like Apple using it and additional trademark options approved for VMC, moving closer to a world where customers can see your logo in every email sent.
VMCs, a part of the Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) initiative, were launched in July 2021, and since then companies from all over the world have used VMCs to showcase their brand consistency in every email opened by their subscribers, making their brand appear front and center, even before the email is opened.
With the release of iOS 16 and Mac OS Ventura, Apple is now showing VMCs to emails addressed to iCloud and “.me” email addresses. Apple is investing in increasing customer trust across their products, and as VMCs are a key way to demonstrate digital trust in the inbox, adding support for VMC just makes sense. Now with Apple, .me and Gmail, VMCs are reaching more inboxes than ever before, becoming a standard for email and leading other ESPs to start adopting VMCs.
Shortly after Apple’s announcement, a French email provider (LePoste) also started showing VMCs. Additionally, Yahoo is reportedly showing VMCs on its desktop version, and we expect their mobile client will follow shortly. The BIMI group keeps an updated list of mailboxes that support BIMI and VMCs on this page, which we expect to continually evolve as adoption for VMCs continues to expand.
This adoption of VMCs by global ESPs shows that providers believe in the value that VMCs provide and the strong authentication behind their issuance. Prior to issuance, each VMC undergoes the highest standard of validation, including confirmation of the domain, the applicant and their company, followed by proof of their right to use the trademark. The applicant validation includes a video call as well as a check to make sure they are authorized by the company to request the VMC. These stringent checks help ensure the VMC, the company and the domain are all tied together, adding assurance to the end user’s authentication of the email. Coupled with an enforced DMARC policy, VMCs provide visual authentication of the email origin.
Furthermore, government marks registered in any of the 11 approved Gmail trademark countries (see the list here: www.digicert.com/vmc) as well as all EU Member States are now eligible for VMCs.
Additionally, we expect more trademark agencies will be approved for VMCs, over and above the 11 currently permitted. This will help expand the market by making VMCs available in countries where the trademark registrations are not currently recognized.
What if you don’t have a trademark? Good news: discussions are underway to allow for non-registered marks to be used (a Mark Certificate). The mark must have been in use for a certain period of time and all the same validation steps will be required. The User Interface (UI) in Gmail will likely show this differently, to distinguish from a VMC. As the specification becomes clearer, more information will be shared here on the DigiCert blog.
This is an exciting time for email marketing, and by using a VMC, your customers will see your logo in every email sent in a consistent manner and with strong security behind it. These milestones show momentum towards a greater adoption of VMC that will ultimately increase digital trust in email inboxes.