Design Basics


Imagery brings our Brand to life – it portrays our personality and evokes emotion. This guide provides a simple overview of DHL’s imagery style, including helpful Dos and Don’ts and a checklist for planning a photo shoot.

  • Essentials
  • Brand images vs. PR photos
  • Image style
  • Photographic advice
  • Placement in layouts
  • Cut-out images
  • Planning a photo shoot
  • Media Library


The imagery we use in marketing and communications reflects a specific style – a visual language we call “Focus on you”. The DHL image style is bright and energetic, with depth of focus and vivid color contrasts. By consistently applying our image style across all media, we ensure that it is recognizable no matter where our images are seen.

Brand images vs. PR photos

Promoting our brand and managing public relations are two separate disciplines for two different target groups. That’s why the images differ as well. 

The pictures we use to promote our image are based on our image style: “Focus on you”. They center around people and are created based on a specific set of traits and tonalities – a visual language that determines composition, perspective, color, light, etc. The content of our images are very diverse, but the style remains consistent. 

PR and press pictures may differ from our image style because it is more difficult to control the content, setting and situation.

Image and advertising pictures

PR and press pictures

Image style


The DHL image style is based on a defined personality – it’s emotional and real people can relate to it. We focus on people in real-life situations – the people we work for and who work for us – and share positive experiences. That’s why it’s called “Focus on you”. However, this does not mean that objects cannot be displayed or put into focus. 

The people in DHL’s image style appear: 

  • Active and committed 
  • Social and interactive 
  • Friendly, likeable, and self-confident 
  • Open, approachable, and connected


Tonalities set the tone. They describe what DHL “feels” like and help us bring the brand to life at every touchpoint.


Key aspects: 

  • Light and warm colors, slightly desaturated
  • Natural light, emphasized with authentic reflections
  • Brightness focuses the eye on the content and separates foreground and background
  • Brightness can be achieved through lots of bright surroundings in the staging, light-filled scenery, and light reflections


Key aspects: 

  • Blur in the foreground and/or background, people or other specific object in focus, unusual perspectives
  • Brightness is a means of placing the focus on the content and separating foreground and background
  • Foreground blurring helps to place the focus on the most important parts of the image. 
  • Unusual perspectives provide lines that point to the focus of the picture


Key aspects:

  • Interesting perspectives, contrasts, and eye-catching image sections
  • Strong light contrasts, dynamic lines, people and objects in motion
  • Interesting angles, play with foreground and background, strong contrasts
  • Dynamic perspectives, powerful color and light contrasts, exciting points of view

Photographic advice

Color and lighting

The colors are warm, authentic,clear, and slightly desaturated. They create a familiar atmosphere and a welcoming look.

The light is bright, authentic, fresh, and full of daylight. The atmosphere is lively and warm. Try to shoot your photos with natural light as much as possible. Avoid using strong artificial light. 

Brighten up the shadows with sun bouncers or scrims. If you shoot in RAW, use the HDR tool in CaptureOne or Adobe Lightroom to lighten up the shadows and darken the lights.


The perspective is dynamic and interesting. Unusual perspectives create tension and a feeling of being a close observer of the scenery.

Composition and focus

The composition is divided into foreground, middle, and background, with a low depth of field and a clear focus that conveys the main message. The staging is authentic. 

Shoot or film with an open f-stop (2.8 - 4) and try to achieve a nice bokeh effect. To achieve the depth, try to arrange things in the foreground or background that are part of the story.


Try to create scenes that are natural and realistic, with actors who look and feel comfortable in their surroundings. This works best if they are briefed in advance on the story behind the image or film clip and their role in it. The photographer or cameraman assumes the role of an interested observer.

Dos and Don’ts

Placement in layouts

Images can be used over the entire canvas or to fill individual sections.

Cut-out images

Images can also be used as cut-outs. Place cut-out images on the full-format gradient, in online media, or on inside pages on white backgrounds and very light gray tones. Unlike full-page images, it’s best to use objects as cut-outs rather than people, such as the DHL plane depicted below. This is because cut-out people tend to look artificial. Your goal should be to create an authentic look. Find out more about the application of cut-out images in the Layout Principle Design Guide.

Dos and Don’ts

Planning a photo shoot

Review and follow these steps to prepare for a photo shoot.

  1. Before shooting new photos based on the DHL style, search the DHL Media Library to see if suitable images are already available.
  2. Compare the images you find for compliance with this DHL Imagery Guide. If they comply, great! Use them! If not, move on to step 3.
  3. If you cannot find a suitable image in the DHL Media Library, you may search in external image databases (e.g. Getty Images). However, any images you find must also comply with this DHL Imagery Guide.
  4. If you are unable to find a suitable image, or you need to capture a specific shot or detail, arrange a photo shoot.
  5. Prepare a comprehensive brief for the photographer based on this DHL Imagery Guide.
  6. Look for and hire experienced, professional photographers who understand our objectives and demonstrate an ability to deliver the DHL style.
  7. After the photo shoot, upload new images to the DHL Media Library. Please contact the Group Brand Services Team for further details.

Media Library

Many on-brand images are available for use in the Brand Hub Media Library. Go here to search the Media Library.