Design Basics

Key Visuals

In this guide, you’ll learn how to communicate important topics, offers, and services with illustrative, photographic, and emotional key visuals.

Key Visuals
  • Essentials
  • Logos, images or key visuals
  • Visual appearance and variations
  • Styles
  • Placement
  • Potential use cases
  • Dos and Don'ts


A key visual is a specific image or illustration used consistently as a recurring motif across the media to help promote everything from projects and campaigns to events and awards. It has the power to communicate more information than a logo and convey abstract, complex, and core messages in an emotional and attractive way.

Key visuals can be created for both short- and long-term activities. If implemented consistently throughout the organization, they can also become important brand-building elements. Use key visuals as additional graphic elements in combination with the DHL logo, but not as a substitute for the logo.

Logos, images or key visuals

A logo represents the core identity of a brand (or an organization, product, or topic). As an essential design element, it is used on all brand communications and its position determines the placement of other elements.

Images typically portray individual situations, adding variety and emotion to layouts. A strong image can become a key visual if it is used consistently as a recurring motif as part of a brand positioning campaign or other specific topic.

A key visual illustrates a specific topic or brand message.

Visual appearance and variations

Key visuals make use of several visual options: photos, illustrations, typographic illustrations, and moving images. Do not blend too many different elements (such as photography, illustration, and typography) in one key visual. And avoid too much complexity and visual conflict with other layout elements.


Motion Graphics


Typographic illustrations



Photographic key visuals illustrate the individual content of a specific topic, add variety and emotion, and contribute to DHL’s unmistakable look and feel. Use photos that are real, authentic, and have an iconic touch. For example, 3D graphics tend to look very artificial and do not fit very well with the more realistic DHL image style.


Illustrative key visuals are simple, flat, solid illustrations displayed in one or a few of the DHL Brand colors. Feel free to use a combination of icons as a key visual, but avoid combining illustrations with real images.


Key visuals are placed in layouts following the same guidelines as illustrations and images, allowing you more flexibility than logos. Arrange the individual elements in a variety of compositions and focus the viewer’s eye on just the right details to reinforce your message.

Potential use cases

Key visuals can really boost your message. Our industry sectors and group initiatives, such as the DHL Technology Sector or the Mission 2050 - GoGreen initiative, represent good potential use cases. Use the sample layouts below for inspiration.

Dos and Don'ts