The &: Our Expressive, Gorgeous Little Glyph

August 14, 2023

We’re pretty enthusiastic about our name, a lot of thought went into it. Art & Science. The coming together of scientific method and artistic creativity. The dyad of measurable and memorable. Of insights and inspiration. Of data and emotion. Of Spock and Kirk. It’s method, and mad genius. You can read more about it here.

Notice we’re not Art and Science. Or Art + Science. Art & Science – with an ampersand – was chosen with a whole lot of intent because deep thinking is how our Wolverine-esque, mutton-chopped president rolls. Come take a little wander with us as we unpack why the beauty of this symbol says everything you need to know about Art & Science through its typography, etymology and symbolism.

And, So…

The ampersand has one job: to replace the word and. At least, that’s how we know and use it today. It comes from the Latin et, which means and then some (more on that in a bit). But did you know that the ampersand was once so important, it had a star turn as the 27th letter in the alphabet?

In the Middle Ages, great communicators wanted to show the difference between using single letters – like I and A – as words. So they added the phrase per se, which meant standing on its own. As in, I per se and would like to go to the market, mother.

School children in the 1800s were known to recite an alphabet that ended X,Y,Z, “and per se and.” But you can never trust children, can you? They got lazy and the phrase was eventually phonetically slurred to sound like “and-per-sand.” Or ampersand, as we know it today. Then, came the use of the glyph –& – making the alphabet read X,Y,Z, &.

In design speak, the ampersand is a ligature. Two or more letters are joined to form a single glyph. Writing a word in the ligature form helped writers save time because one letter followed the other seamlessly. Some people say that you can almost see the swirls of the A in Adam and the S in Spence in our ampersand, a self-referential nod to the names of our two agency owners.

And let’s not forget that the ampersand is also incredibly beautiful, typographically – and one of the places where designers can let loose creatively.

And Then Some

To unpack the relevance of the & to Art & Science, you need to explore that little nugget and then some. It tells you everything about the way we think. From the beginning, we’ve always looked at what we can do that looks beyond what we’re asked to do. But not in an upsell kind of way. Our mission is to partner with businesses to define the future of brands. To help a brand break through, to bring them ideas that are worthy of their trust and faith in our abilities, we’re always striving, in every way, on every day, to deliver the and then some.

If we’d called ourselves Art and Science, we’d really be downgrading the essence of what we believe – and deliver. We’re in good company on this one. Wouldn’t brands like Ben & Jerry’s just be two guys hawking frozen cookies and cream without the &, instead of that shining beacon of self care for generations of women post-break up? Same for Dolce & Gabbana and M&Ms–just shiny shirts and cheap candy without the uplift of the ampersand?

Same here: you get a whole lot more with the Art & Science approach. It’s not in any job description or a part of any interview with us, but somehow we always seem to attract talented people who get the &. And it really starts with being curious and asking questions, really good questions that go beyond the scope of the brief.

Our media and analytics team sees the potential of brand exploration beyond the reports and the metrics, and loops in the creative team for +1 ideas. When UX starts, content and SEO aren’t sitting on the sidelines waiting for the call to action, they’re flagged early for some thoughts and stay part of the process throughout. Our design team has regular show-and-shares to explore the latest tools like AI. Our client services team is side-by-side with our development team while we’re scoping out account needs, so we know the best technical solution for project lift off.

How We Roll

We do this all naturally and without any expectations that it’s leading to a bigger share of account dollars. Then we offer what we observe to our clients to let them decide if it brings value and is worth exploring further. When it comes to our philosophy, the ampersand way of thinking is baked into the three pillars of our belief system.

Collaboratively run.
We believe in creating trusted partnerships with our clients and all our people. You won’t find silos here, just a team working together to put forward the best brand work possible. Because great minds don’t all think alike, and we know we are better when we draw upon and share our various diverse experiences, talents and backgrounds.

Strategically Driven.
We believe in strategy. Period. Knowing your industry, your audience, your competition, exploring the whys, gathering the insights, analysing data, and creating clear and measurable objectives is everything. Great strategy is what memorable brands and campaigns are built on. And it’s what sets them up for lasting success.

Creatively Led.
We believe in creativity, because it’s crucial in all aspects of our work. Every person on the team needs to think creatively, not just the creative department. We’re a group of strategists, digital innovators, designers and technologists who approach challenges from different angles, and come together to make fresh connections and enable new possibilities.

A Symbol of How We Operate

We are as much of a brand as the brands we’re privileged to work with, with an epic story and philosophy that we hope resonates for our clients. Yes, the ampersand looks cool and saves on word real estate. But for us, it translates into the powerful space between what we’re asked to do, and what else we can do.

Why? Maybe it’s as simple as why dogs like to hang their heads out of car windows at speed while the wind whips around their ears. Because it feels good.

We are at our best when we’re in full “& Mode,” the fickle winds of branding buffeting us and showing us just how good it feels to give 120%.


— Alison Butlin, Creative Content Director

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