There's a million examples of this, but the one that comes to mind is "smoke shop" with images of pipes in place of the "S"s, like this:

Smoke shop logo

Is there a word for this? (It's not a rebus!)

I often see it in lazy or sometimes terrible graphic design. "Visual pun" comes close, but in many cases there doesn't seem to be any punning at all, or maybe they're just unfunny. In the worst cases, the word is rendered nearly incomprehensible or ambiguous.

More examples, all of which are fairly "punny". (I can't find any examples of the unfunny/downright-incomprehensible ones, sorry.) Name Tag Wizard

Born Social

enter image description here

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    "Hard to read." – Joshua Sep 26 at 22:23
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Semantic reinforcement

The semantic is used in graphic design to emphasize the meaning of a word or phrase through graphic resources, alluding to some immediate quality directly or indirectly related.

Quite used as a graphic resource can be classified according to their to the modification used:

  • Typographical variables
  • Position
  • Direction
  • Distortion
  • Breaking
  • Exclusion
  • Adding
  • Replacement

The Google searching term: double meaning logos or double meaning graphics.

Typographical Variables

Using typographic variables as a semantic resource: size, inclination, style, color, width.

Size

families logo

Slant

Subway Logo

Style

enter image description here

Color

VW

Width

hulk logo

Position

Changing the position of the characters. London logo

Direction

Changing the direction of the characters.

Deleg

Distortion

Distortion of the characters.

Axcess

Breaking

surface

Exclusion

missing link

Adding

  • Images
  • Characters
  • Graphics

Puma logo

Replacement

  • Images
  • Characters
  • Graphics

Ikea replacement


The examples of the question make reference to the last point of this classification: semantic reinforcement with replacement by an image

  • 3
    Many of these examples are not relevant to the actual question, and they make it for a rather overwhelming list. I'd suggest you remove the examples that don't specifically address the case in the original question to make the answer easier to read. – barbecue Sep 26 at 13:40
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    It's true, in fact the question only refers to the last point of the classification: replacement. Hence, I have referred to the entire classification to make it clearer what the OP is looking for is not a single and isolated element but belongs to a larger entity: the use of semantics in graphic design. – Danielillo Sep 26 at 13:49
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    I think Scotts answer, pictograph or pictogram is the right term, much better than a made-up word. Or perhaps "pictorial representation" is what you were looking for? Semanticize is certainly a word, but it has nothing to do with graphics/pictures as such - it just means "to give meaning" to something. – Billy Kerr Sep 26 at 14:02
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    Do not remove any example! This answer is sure, a bit wider, but it makes total sense. The only problem is that the field of semiotics is not widespread, so the term and concept would be difficult to "google" for more image references :o) – Rafael Sep 26 at 17:42
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    Don't worry, I will not. Thanks for your opinion. – Danielillo Sep 26 at 17:43

A Pictograph or Pictogram.

pictograph |ˈpiktəˌgraf| (also pictogram |-ˌgram| )
noun
a pictorial symbol for a word or phrase. Pictographs were used as the earliest known form of writing, examples having been discovered in Egypt and Mesopotamia from before 3000 bc .
• a pictorial representation of statistics on a chart, graph, or computer screen.

DERIVATIVES
pictographic |ˌpiktəˈgrafik| adjective.
pictography |pikˈtägrəfē| noun

ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from Latin pict- ‘painted’ (from the verb pingere) + -graph.

  • 6
    If we were replacing the whole logo then that might be called a pictograph, but when replacing one or two letters it doesn't seem right for the whole word to be called a pictograph - it's still mostly letters, and the replacement is read as a letter not for the semantics of what it symbolises. – Pete Kirkham Sep 26 at 15:26
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    I can see that point @PeteKirkham . However, it could be said that all the symbols/image comprise a pictograph and it just so happens some of the symbols/images are type glyphs. If one is not an English speaker a K may look like nothing more than another image. I'm certain hieroglyphics all just looked like words and phrases to Egyptians. – Scott Sep 26 at 18:21
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    Hieroglyphics aren't pictographs either - they mostly represent phonemes so you need several of them to represent the sound of a word which in turn represents a concept. They evolved from the pictographs mentioned in the definition you quoted. – Pete Kirkham Sep 26 at 20:58
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    Emojis are pictographs - they are pictures which represent a word or phrases. For example the pictograph 🐝 represents a whole concept, and represents the same concept to a Italian speaker as to an English speaker. Writing instead in an alphabet where the letters represent the phoneme sequence, 'bee' and 'ape' are different, both representing the sound of the word in a specific language and hence representing the concept. – Pete Kirkham Sep 28 at 9:19
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    I've got to agree with @PeteKirkham. Pictographs function on the level of words or ideas (and the images in rebuses can function on smaller levels than that, like syllables or phonemes), but I'm referring to an image that just replaces a single letter. And the image doesn't refer to the sound of the letter: the image in "🐝 HAPPY" functions differently from "🍏PPLE." – Richard Maneuv Sep 29 at 7:44

It is called a lettermark, an illustrated letter, an especially effective type of trademark.
(from Before & After Magazine © 2004)

To design a lettermark, select a typeface and a graphic, then just overlay. Colour and style choices make design possibilities endless.

If your client has a tangible product (the pipe, for example), draw it, a product is usually the most effective identifier. If a literal object doesn't work, try symbolism.

All the designs work by virtue of the psychological concept of Closure in visual perception. Graphic design is a means of communication where inference gives meaning to visual forms.


The concept in force here is called Closure.
It is covered by Gestalt Theories of Perception

Humans are bombarded with countless signals day-to-day. To keep from going crazy, we unify these signals into groups. Gestalt designers are obsessed with how people put objects together in their minds. Good designs lead people to experience the message you want to convey.

Gestalt Rules of Grouping (Simplicity)

Closure: The mind wants closure. A shape only needs to be implied for the mind to “fill in the gaps” and see what it wants to see. A dominant shape will prevail over seemingly unrelated parts. The substitution of an object for a similarly shaped letter - for example: the use of a banana for one of the ‘ls’ in the word “Kellogg’s implies the use of closure since we see the word mark even though it is incomplete.

Also involved is the principle of
Prägnanz: The mind wants to see things as simply as possible. We will perceive a complex array of lines as a single shape if possible. A tendency to interpret ambiguous images as simple and complete, versus complex and incomplete.

  • Probably you need to join the two answers. This first and the former as a complement. – Rafael Sep 26 at 22:50
  • @Rafael Nice catch! Is there a technique here for that operation? What do I do with the leftover "stub?" Otherwise, yes, this is an answer with an example of the other answer as theory. – Stan Sep 27 at 2:42
  • Copy - Paste... You can delete the other answer :o) – Rafael Sep 27 at 7:27

The concept in force here is called Closure.
It is covered by Gestalt Theories of Perception

Humans are bombarded with countless signals day-to-day. To keep from going crazy, we unify these signals into groups. Gestalt designers are obsessed with how people put objects together in their minds. Good designs lead people to experience the message you want to convey.

Gestalt Rules of Grouping (Simplicity)

Closure: The mind wants closure. A shape only needs to be implied for the mind to “fill in the gaps” and see what it wants to see. A dominant shape will prevail over seemingly unrelated parts. The substitution of an object for a similarly shaped letter - for example: the use of a banana for one of the ‘ls’ in the word “Kellogg’s implies the use of closure since we see the word mark even though it is incomplete.

Also involved is the principle of
Prägnanz: The mind wants to see things as simply as possible. We will perceive a complex array of lines as a single shape if possible. A tendency to interpret ambiguous images as simple and complete, versus complex and incomplete.

  • 3
    I think Closure refers to visual perception, as you well clarify in your answer, but it does not respond to a graphic resource. I will never say "I will use closure in this logo". – Danielillo Sep 26 at 17:10
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    Hi @Danielillo, You don't say it. You think it. It is the name of the concept involved in perception whether you are aware of it or not. It is a principle of design. There might be many other common terms for it. Without it, your designs would lack "meaning." – Stan Sep 26 at 17:51
  • He's not disagreeing that closure is a factor during design, he's just saying it is not a visual element. Visual elements are a way of conveying closure (or any other design or psychological concept), and the question is about the name of the visual element, not the name of its purpose. – Kroltan Sep 27 at 1:16
  • 1
    @Kroltan Thank you. I forgot to include "yes." (I don't disagree.) I interpreted the question differently. – Stan Sep 27 at 2:48

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