With appropriate spatial resolution, images of spiral galaxies in thermal infrared (∼10 μm and beyond) often reveal a bright central component, distinct from the stellar bulge, superimposed on a disk with prominent spiral arms. ISO and Spitzer studies have shown that much of the scatter in the mid-infrared colors of spiral galaxies is related to changes in the relative importance of these two components, rather than to other modifications, such as the morphological type or star formation rate, that affect the properties of the galaxy as a whole. With the Herschel imaging capability from 70 to 500 μm, we revisit this two-component approach at longer wavelengths, to see if it still provides a working description of the brightness distribution of galaxies, and to determine its implications on the interpretation of global far-infrared properties of galaxies. We quantify the luminosity of the central component by both a decomposition of the radial surface brightness profile and a direct extraction in 2D. We find the central component contribution is variable within the three galaxies in our sample, possibly connected more directly to the presence of a bar than to the morphological type. The central component's relative contribution is at its maximum in the mid-infrared range and drops around 160 μm to reach a constant value beyond 200 μm. The central component contains a greater fraction of hot dust than the disk component, and while the colors of the central components are scattered, colors of the disk components are more homogenous from one galaxy to the next. © 2010 ESO.