Keep Calm & Carry On… or will it?

Last edited 14 June, 2022
Branding, Industry Insights, Marketing
2 min read.

There’s a current uproar surrounding the trademarked slogan, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.

The slogan was produced during the spring of 1939, prior to the devastation that ensued with the Second World War.

Trademarks give companies a secure identity, which can be in the form of text or a logo, which symbolise brand values. These ‘symbols’ play an essential role in the decision-making process from consumers.

“No matter what marketplace you operate in; no matter the size and scope of your firm; a registered trade mark is simply a must for your business. It will protect, differentiate and add-value to what you do – and therefore make your business stand out in the crowd.”

Dr Jonathan Elms,
Institute for Retail Studies

There were three campaigns produced, which aimed to strengthen public resolve in the face of the World War. More than a million were printed, which read

‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory.’
The second declared, ‘Freedom Is In Peril’.

The third and final campaign intended to comfort and inspire the British population if ever an invasion by Nazi Germany was to threaten Britain’s borders.

‘Keep Calm and Carry On’

BBC News reports that 2.5 million copies had been produced and would be distributed across the country if Britain had been invaded. As we all know, Britain never was and thus they remained in storage throughout the war.

Until, 2000, when Stuart Manley, co-owner of Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland, stumbled upon these 5 words emblazoned on a poster with the crown of King George VI resting above the words, against a bold red background.


Poster’s and billboards were major mediums during those times in the same way television is now. Professor Aulich describes the poster and it’s meaning as having ‘universal appeal’.

The Guardian mentions that today you can buy Keep Calm and Carry On mugs, doormats, T-shirts, hoodies, cufflinks, baby and it’s reported that even David Beckham has the T-shirt!

Stuart Manley has in March, 2009 had sold 41,000 posters. Mike Coop of estimates he is selling 300-500 products a week. Incidentally, Mike Coop, owner of Keep Calm and Carry On Ltd, is at the epicentre of the trademark row as he has monopolised the slogan and is enforcing it wherever other companies are infringing upon it.

Freelance:UK states that IP Group, who handles Intellectual Property, is looking to reclaim ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ as they feel the trademark rights held by Mr Coop are having a devastating effect on smaller retailers.

Mark Kingsley-Williams, founder of Trade Mark Direct, believes the slogan is ‘part of Britain’s heritage’ and that he has ‘no doubt that fairness and common sense will prevail’.

Let us know what you think about this piece of Great British History, and whether you think it should be trademarked or available to all retailers.

EDGE team member



EDGE routinely feature guest blogs written by key industry professionals covering a wide variety of topics. Their insight is crucial to our development as a marketing agency and helps us learn about and adapt to new industries, ideals, and business practices. The partnership we have with our guest authors helps us both grow side-by-side and brings a fresh perspective on topics both old and new.