Photography & Illustration

We use photography to communicate our offerings in a compelling, inclusive manner, and to establish meaningful connections with our audiences. Our photography creates and promotes messaging that resonates with people of all backgrounds, age, color, gender, gender identity, national origin, physical or mental disability, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Our photography is honest, aspirational, purposeful, dynamic, engaging and real – never staged – leading to compelling narratives within four category types:


Use this type of photography to convey the “big picture” by focusing on where our products are used. Compositions should feature dramatic use of scale and evoke a sense of scale and movement.


Use photography that reflects the diverse characteristics that are important to your global audience and show all the ways our colleagues are working in water. If possible, avoid stock photography and use images that include people of different backgrounds, age, color, gender, gender identity, national origin, physical or mental disability, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Make sure the photograph content reflects a sincere commitment to diversity, but in a way that’s organic for Xylem and your audience – representative of our authentic Xylem’s culture. Note that diversity and inclusion can be depicted in abstract ways, like in the following images:

Use this type of photography to showcase the dedication of our employees and customers by exhibiting their creativity and vision through the various projects they undertake. The more we showcase real people of all kinds in our photography, the more engaged our audiences will be in the content we create, and the more inclusive our culture will become.


Use this type of photography to showcase our products in the context of real-world environments. Compositions should focus on product while illustrating its vital role in the larger process.

Product silhouettes

Approved product photography includes still-life imagery of Xylem products that are clean and simple. Remove products from distracting backgrounds (silhouetting). They should be well-lit and taken from angles of perspective, appearing an integrated part of our design approach.

NOTE: If you plan to use photography in communications outside the U.S. and Canada, ensure the images are relevant and culturally sensitive to a global audience.

Photographic style

Keep three general style principles in mind when selecting, placing and cropping photography for use in our materials. Using photos that exhibit these principles will help to create more compelling and dynamic layouts.


Select and use photography that exhibits an asymmetrical composition. This means that the main subject of the photograph, such as a person or product, should not be centered within the frame but slightly askew. This helps to create visual tension within the image and a more dynamic layout.

Use asymmetrical composition or cropping to create active, engaging imagery. Visual tension can be instilled into an image by placing key aspects outside the center of the frame.


Photography should feature dynamic use of scale. This is especially important when featuring people and environments. For example, accentuating the powerful nature of a hydro-plant can be achieved by featuring a plant worker very small while having the plant environment dominate the composition.

Use scale to focus attention on key aspects of a photograph. People and products may be shown up close or from far away within their given environments.


Photography should be vivid and lively. Use imagery that is well-lit and colorful to convey optimism and vitality. When possible, select photos that feature colors similar to those within our color palette to retain a consistent look and feel to our communications.

Use well-lit imagery to convey positivity and optimism. Spots of vivid colors, preferably from our color palette, may be infused in our imagery to create a sense of vitality.

What to avoid

Since photography is an important part of our visual system, it is critical to select and apply it correctly. Make sure the photograph content reflects a sincere commitment to diversity and inclusion, but in a way that’s organic for Xylem and your audience. Displayed below are some examples of misinterpretation of our photographic style.

Do not use images that are cliché or metaphoric.

Do not use images that feel staged and unauthentic.

Do not blend photography to create a single image. Follow the guidelines below for using multiple images

Effective use of photography

When featuring photography within communications it is important to first determine the overall message and then select and use images accordingly.

The goal for all our communications is to tell a compelling story in the most simple and clear manner possible. To accomplish this, we prefer to feature a single, expressive image that captures the essence of the story. There may be some situations where it is not possible to tell the story through use of a single image. In these cases, use multiple images that are grouped but clearly distinct from each other. There are generally two situations where featuring multiple images is helpful:

Addressing multiple product environments

When messaging addresses multiple product environments that need to be represented through imagery, feature the photos adjacent to each other.

Telling a complete product story

Since product environments are often grand in scale when compared to the products themselves, it may be difficult to capture both successfully in one image. In these situations organize multiple images to clearly tell the complete story,starting at the macro-level (product environment) and ending at the micro-level (product up-close).

Tips for choosing inclusive photos

Commit to choosing and creating photography in a thoughtful way so different types of people are featured and represented as equals. Also, avoid stereotypes and make sure the photography never looks staged.

We recommend you make a “diversity & inclusion checklist” to confirm photo imagery includes as many types of people as possible. The checklist is also useful for identifying when your photos include too much of one group and not enough of another. It’s unlikely images will include people from each category below, but the more types of people represented from the checklist, the better. The images should be authentic and represent all the ways we work at Xylem.

  • Ages: A range of ages from birth to old age
  • Races/ethnicities: African/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern, Caucasian/white, mixed-race, among others
  • Gender/gender identity: Women, men, transgender, non-binary, and other genders
  • National origin
  • Physical or mental abilities: People with a wide array of physical and mental abilities or disabilities
  • Religion
  • Body types: A range of body types, sizes, and heights

When reviewing your images, it is also good to ask yourself, “If I were in the photo, would I  want to be portrayed this way?” and “Am I ok with how I am being represented?”

For additional insights, read this interesting blog from January 2020, Forum One: How to Choose Diverse and Inclusive Photos by Acacia Betancourt.

Iconography and illustration style

Our iconographic style is closely aligned with our personality attributes through a straightforward and friendly approach. This visual language is consistent with other visual aspects of our brand.


Iconography can be used to help a user navigate our web site, illustrate an idea discussed within a brochure, or to represent the breadth of our capabilities and the industries we service.

Ensure icons are simple and descriptive – featuring clean, recognizable shapes. Our icons are created using a thin, monoline style enclosed in a waterdrop shape. The waterdrop can be either solid or outlined, but our icons are always one color only – Xylem Blue, Xylem Gray or white.

Technical illustration

Our technical illustrations help our customers achieve a better understanding of our products and offerings. When creating these illustrations, use cutaway and transparency to reveal key details, or single-weight lines for simple technical information. Avoid unnecessary detail.

Rev: 10-08-2020