We've all seen the posters with the words urging us to "Keep Calm and Carry On." They are everywhere these days.
I've always thought the poster was visually appealing, but generally I don't like to decorate with things that I feel are overdone in the design world. Other than that, I see myself as someone who would rather have the poster below on my wall.
But that was before I learned the history of the "Keep Calm Carry On" mantra. Do you know about it?
The well known image was actually part of a 3 poster series that the British government created just before England entered WWII. The goal of the propaganda posters was to keep moral high, motivation strong, and nerves steady during the dark days that were sure to come. The other two posters, which get far less pub, also had inspiring messages. Here's the set. . .
The first two posters were released immediately, but the third (the "Keep Calm & Carry On one) was held back. It was only to be released in the event that England was invaded. They would be the last words of the British government to it's people. Luckily, an invasion never happened and therefore almost all of the posters were destroyed without the public ever seeing the phrase. Then almost 50 years later, a preserved copy of the poster was found. Ever since then, the popularity and love for the saying has skyrocketed. Now you can find the phrase on everything from coffee cups to koozies. . . but as it's popularity has grown, the story behind the poster has been left behind.
I like the poster so much more now that I know where it came from! And I identify with the phrase so much more. I recently read a study that researched leadership in trying times. The goal of the study was to determine what made some companies thrive in hard times while others collapsed. The study concluded that the success of a company during dark times had nothing to do with the charisma, risk taking strategies, or luck of the leadership. The companies that thrived had leadership that continued to stay calm, confident, and continued moving forward though they were surrounded by mayhem. These leaders that remained calm during the chaos were the ones that weathered the storm and came out better on the other side.
It very much reminds me of my basketball days when the clock was winding down and the game was tight. During that situation, the crowd is going wild, nerves are on edge, & excitement is in the air. In my early days, this was a moment when my heart would race and mistakes were made as panic set in. But as I got better and improved my game, this was a situation I thrived in. As a point guard, you are the leader on the court and believe it or not, the "troops" will take on the demeanor that you portray. You will notice that great teams have point guards, quarterbacks, and coaches that all keep calm when others would be shaking with fear.
So, hopefully you found this info as interesting as I did. Meaningful design is something very important to me. I am happy to say that after learning the history of this poster, I would definitely use it in the right space. So, you may be seeing it sometime soon! :)
PS-If you like, here's a little video of the poster and the story behind it!