Keep Calm And Make Posters [Review]



This simple image has become a cliché in the UK in recent years, and is now much parodied and remixed everywhere you look. Now you can remix it yourself, thanks to a variety of (very similar-looking) apps for iOS.

First, some background. The phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” was one of three invented for use by the UK authorities during the Second World War, intended to reassure frightened citizens during the darkest days of German bombardment. But the poster itself never saw the light of day, until a copy was unearthed in a bookshop back in 2000.

The bookshop was Barter Books, and the story didn’t end there. Hung on the wall, the poster appealed to customers who started asking for prints. So prints were made. And then it snowballed.

You can now see Keep Calm posters in every cafe, Keep Calm mugs in every store, and Keep Calm-inspired design almost everywhere.

The full story is explained in this video from Barter Books:

No wonder, then, that Keep Calm apps have appeared on the App Store. Search for “Keep Calm” and you’ll see loads of them. (In an earlier version of this post, I got mixed up myself – apologies to all concerned for that.)

Barter Books has gone into the apps business, and launched its own app, which is free for the time being. It tells you the full story behind the slogan, as well as letting you devise your own versions.

As well as the newer Barter Books version, there’s also one by Back Bay Bytes, which does much the same job but will cost you a dollar.

Stop working and play games

Your iPhone is ringing answer it

The “official” Barter Books app has a slightly slicker text editing interface, but doesn’t offer a range of icon options to place above the text. Back Bay Bytes’ offering might be a tiny bit rougher round the edges, but is more flexible.

Despite getting hopelessly confused about which app is which, I enjoyed playing with both of them and coming up with some slogans of my own. I think they would come in unexpectedly useful when travelling, to send back insta-postcards to loved ones with a photo and a summary of what’s happening.

UPDATED to clear up app identify confusion. Apologies.

  • Alexis Tremblay

    Keep calm and Chive On

  • Jimmy Versace

    It seems the images in this article are from an App by Back Bay Bytes LLC called “Keep Calm and Carry On” (which is $.99), not the app by Barter Books which is “Keep Calm: Home of” (which is currently free). 

    You may have also reviews the Back Bay Bytes app, since that one has an icon creator and the Barter books one does not (you can only choose from ones already in the app).

  • Jason

    This review is not for the Barter Books app… Wow, what a screw up – any editors over there at Cult of Mac?

  • Todd Thomas

    Might be worth mentioning that the Barter Books app came out months after the Back Bay Bytes LLC app did, and while Barter Books is indeed the unofficial “home” of the Keep Calm image, the app they put out was clearly – ahem – inspired by the Back Bay Bytes app.

  • seelee

    Now Panic and Freak Out!

  • gilest

    Zoiks, I got completely confused about which app was which. (They look rather similar.)

    Many apologies to all concerned; I’ve now edited to make clear, and added a *mea culpa* leading image. 

  • ridwan326

    The app is available for FREE now! Cool!!!