The Keep Calm & Carry On poster is a global phenomenon. Not only is it a must item for tourists visiting England, it is an incredibly inspiring meme (see samples below and Google image search here). There is something in its unique typeface and simple yet symmetrical design that makes the poster timeless. Yet, it may never have seen the day were it not for a quaint bookstore in the north of England called Barter Books (see their site here). The wife of the pair who own the book shop found the posters and fell in love with the Keep Calm one. She framed it, hung it up in the story, and soon people were asking for it. Quickly it became a business. The popularity of the posters promoted the store to memorialize its role of reintroducing it to the world through this short video.
The iconic British poster was designed along with two others as propaganda pieces leading up to and during WWII. The first two (see below) were distributed at news stands and railroad stations. Meanwhile the now famous Keep Calm one never made it into circulation. The video below tells the story wonderfully.
While the other posters in the series never achieved cult status, the “unreleased” one did. Why is that? If you think about it, there is a rhythm to the message that can be applied to countless things (see examples below). The poster almost encourages you to apply its sentiment to your reality, to your emotions, to your desires. Quite honestly it has the same appeal as a Harlem Shake: simple yet incredibly addictive; basic yet so ripe for intense creative interpretation. As long as you follow its flow of not too many words, and message balance each poster is equally appealing. Brilliant.