September 8th marks the celebration of National Ampersand Day. As a graphic designer this little ligature plays a very big role in my everyday creative work, so much so I want to share with you a brief introduction to the 27th character of our alphabet and some of my favourite ampersand logo identities.
One of the most beautiful symbols in our Latin-based written language, the ampersand is a representation of the word ‘AND’. It takes the form of a ligature that combines an e and a t from the Latin word et, meaning “and”.
Let’s be frank, the ampersand has “stand-out” qualities, especially through the eyes of a designer, we can’t get enough of them. It is one of the few letterforms that invites us “creative types” to interpret it in so many ways, frequently used as a highlighted element in a logo or word mark.
The classic logo for me is the V&A (Victoria and Albert) created in 1989 by Alan Fletcher of Pentagram. Set in Bodoni, it brings the three letters of the museum’s nickname, V&A, together as a unified symbol, achieved by Fletcher’s decision to remove half of the letter ‘A’ and then use the ampersand to reinstate the missing crossbar. The resulting mark is distinctive but elegant.
Another common typographic approach is when the ampersand is used with the written title of a logo identity. A classic example is the established Marks & Spencer logo. This brand evolution took place in the late 1990s when the brand moved away from the St Michael typographic lockup. Still recognised around the world, this British classic partnership stands the test of time.
So these are my favourites, which partnership logos are yours?