Recently the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” has become all the rage. It ranges from every other post on Pinterest, to coffee mugs and t-shirts. The phrase has even been parodied and recreated. The first few were funny (“Keep Calm and Eat Cake”, “Keep Calm and Call Mom”), but then they got to be too much (“Keep Calm and Love Justin Beiber”). Now it’s sensory overload. So where did this whole thing start and why is it so popular now?
“Keep Calm and Carry On” was originally a motivational poster created by the Ministry of Information for the British government during WWII. It was to be displayed around Great Britain only if there were a German invasion. The design was actually apart of a three poster series, all featuring King George VI’s crown at the top of each poster. The other two said “Your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution, will bring us victory” and “Freedom is in peril defend it with all your might”.
A German invasion on Great Britain never happened and the posters were supposed to be destroyed – never to be seen by the public. However, in early 2000 a copy of the poster was found in a second-hand bookstore in England. The poster became very popular with customers and the bookstore began to reproduce it and sell copies. This leads us up to today.
Why is this poster/phrase so popular today? Perhaps it’s the clean, sleek and timeless typography of white on orange. Or perhaps it’s the warm message the poster is sending out that inspires us during difficult times. Either way our culture has embraced the poster and made it our own. So, keep calm and carry on.