In offices, shops and homes. On doormats, key-rings, aprons, mugs and oven gloves. It is simply everywhere.
It has understandably struck a chord with recession-hit post-9/11 Britain. Indeed, the conspiracy-theorist in me sometimes wonders if its ubiquity was an orchestrated plot by the coalition to make us buck-up, accept our situation and quit complaining. No? Just me? OK, I'll continue…
I had wondered for some time where this phenomenon had sprung from and the answer came in this month's Creative Review.
2.5 million of these posters were printed by the Ministry of Information in 1939 as part of a broad campaign which included other iconic slogans such as Dig for Victory and Careless Talk Costs Lives.
However, the Keep Calm posters were to only be distributed in the event of a Nazi invasion and as such, the original Keep Calm posters never saw the light of day and eventually, an order was given to pulp the posters when the war ended.
With the original posters now extremely rare, their resurrection began in 2000 when Stuart Manley, a small independent bookshop owner in Northumberland, discovered a single copy bundled with some antique books he had just purchased. Mounted by his bookshop till, the poster caught the eye of customers and he started printing copies for them.
Demand soon snowballed and Keep Calm and Carry On is now an industry in itself.
Great, timeless communication at its purest.
The slogan was ranked 12th in Creative Review's greatest slogans of all time (ahead of It's the Real Thing and Because I'm worth it no less).
It is succinct, relevant and memorable. It says what it needs to say with the minimum amount of words.
In this regard it is far more successful than some of the wartime posters which did see the light of day. Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory is wordy and fails to connect in the same way and as such, was not successful in engaging the public during the war.
And then there's the design…
In short, a simple message allowed to do its job properly with the support of quietly brilliant design.