Design Basics


DHL’s clear illustration and comic styles can be used for everything from sharing information to telling entertaining stories. In this Design Guide, you will find many examples, learn more about how to apply the various styles, find a list of recommended illustrators, and more.

  • Essentials
  • Examples
  • Expression
  • Style
  • Degree of realism
  • Colors
  • Infographics
  • Typographic Illustrations
  • Using icons in illustrations
  • Characters
  • Illustrations vs. comics
  • Dos and Don’ts
  • Downloads
  • Illustrators


Illustrations and comics can be highly effective and entertaining ways to visualize your concepts and ideas. They can be used to produce emotional layouts, express specific ideas, communicate information, and simplify instructions. Place illustrations and comics like images in your layouts: full-format, cut-out, or within the content.



Like DHL images, illustrations and comics also play a role in how our brand is recognized and perceived. Therefore, they must reflect DHL’s Brand values and tonalities. Make sure that your designs meet the following criteria:


DHL illustrations do not have contours. Drawings are solid and flat, with lines used as accents only if necessary. Use shadows as two-dimensional elements or gradients in order to achieve a shading effect.

Degree of realism

How real or abstract your illustrations depends on the context and objectives.

Symbolic design elements can be a simple way to illustrate certain content and relationships. Abstract illustrations can convey complex information quickly and easily. They not only make great key visuals, the sheer simplicity often makes them very easy to design.

Low degree of realism
By omitting superfluous details, complex scenes and contexts can be illustrated in a fairly simple manner. The result is a somewhat realistic image that viewers will quickly recognize and understand. Less detail should also reduce the design time.

Moderate degree of realism
With more detailed, realistic designs, viewers become more immersed in the image. They see and experience real human emotions and other real-world features. Naturally, the greater the detail, the more time and effort it takes to design.

High degree of realism
High quality, highly detailed illustrations captivate viewers longer. Although the look and feel tends to be less dynamic than others, lifelike illustrations make it possible to paint complex, large-scale yet appealing scenes that invite viewers to explore. This type of illustration generally involves the most time and effort.


Primary colors
Our main DHL Brand colors Postyellow and DHL Red play an important role in illustrations. The proportion of Postyellow should be greater than the DHL Red.

Black, white and shades of gray
Use black and white, especially for text and backgrounds. To add more life to illustrations, you can use the extended shades of gray. These shades of gray can only be used for illustrations.

Other color shades
Colors outside the DHL color pallet may also be used. However, they must fulfill the following criteria: non-bright, lower saturation than corporate colors, and muted.


Whether you need to make a complex topic quick and easy to grasp or simply present the essentials with an eye-catching visual, infographics are great way to deliver content to today’s audiences. But to work well, they must be optimized for a variety of channels (phone, tablet, etc.). Always keep the smallest channel in mind (e.g. Facebook post on smartphone screen) when determining detail, font sizes, etc.

Infographics for print media can be larger and include more detail, depending on the format. For social media, the same information must be presented on a much smaller scale, especially to optimize for mobile devices. Therefore, make sure to display only the essential elements and divide larger images into multiple posts.

Typographic Illustrations

Typographic illustrations consist almost entirely of typography and can offer a useful alternative to more common infographics. We recommend the font style Bold or Black Condensed for these illustrations.

Using icons in illustrations

Use our icons in illustrations individually or in combination with others, and place them on white backgrounds or the Postyellow gradients. In addition to DHL Red and Postyellow, our icons may be rendered in gray tones, white, and shades of Postyellow. Icon are typically placed against a white background or the Postyellow gradient. The size of our icons is variable but the shape should not be changed.


The characters depicted in our illustrations follow our comic style and may not be altered. If you would like to create a new character, please contact the Group Brand Services Team.

Illustrations vs. comics

Illustrative style
Illustrations avoid exaggeration and feature realistic characters and objects in real-life situations.

Comic style
Comics are a type of illustration that is more playful, friendly, and amusing. The people and places in comics are more imaginative and expressive. A fictitious comic character can become a symbolic figure or represent a certain theme. The character’s facial expression, attitude, motion sequences, and other individual elements are striking and somewhat exaggerated.


Comic expressions

Our comics are part of our Brand and must therefore communicate DHL’s Brand values and tonalities. DHL comics must always meet the following criteria:

Dos and Don’ts


If you download any document, you accept our Terms and Conditions.

DHL Comic Characters
DHL Composite Visual


Below is a list of select international illustrators available for hire. All illustrators in this pool have been reviewed and approved for their adherence to our Brand standards.

Recommended illustrators and illustration agencies

Lee Montgomery
United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 7720 5202

Mike Stones
United Kingdom
Phone: +44 7879 686251

Tobias Wandres
Phone: +49 40 250 40 50

Die ILLUSTRATOREN corinna hein GmbH
Contact: Claudia Binke
Phone: +49 40 250 4050

Sebastian Molzahn
Phone: +55 21 9881 5087

United Kingdom and USA
Contact: Justine Vincent
Phone: +44 7891 390750

United Kingdom
Contact: Chris Belson
Phone: +44 20 7242 9562

Contact Polina Savinova
Phone: +7 495 668 3703

Illustration Ltd
Contact: Marie Bastille
Phone: +33 145 267 0089