Keep calm and have a cuppa
photo credit: Hot tea at The Pizza Express via photopin (license)

That’s what many people were posting on social media when we woke up this morning to the news that the UK has voted to leave the EU.

But why did they use the famous four-letter F-word (in full) instead of Fiddlesticks, Fridge magnet, Gerbil, or any other word from our vocabulary?

When we are young, we are taught that certain words are ‘bad’, so we store them in a different part of our brain – the amygdala, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response. It’s where we find the language we use when we are most in shock, which is why people swear when they stub their toe or bang their head on an open cupboard door.

For more on this, see the language of swearing videos below.


You might know that, although I’m primarily a copywriter (and trainer, speaker, author), I’m quite visual. I can’t write without picturing how my words are going to appear. I work closely with graphic and web designers. Occasionally, I do a bit of design myself.

I remember when we voted to join the then European Economic Community (EEC), and my Dad entered a competition. The tie-breaker was to design a logo for the EEC, and he asked me to help. I remember standing in the kitchen, scribbling the letters on a piece of paper.

Lots of people made logos comprising the flags of the nation states, but it occurred to me that many people write a rounded E that looks like a C with a line through it, so this is the logo I designed. It was listed in the top ten, and I think we won a book.

EECYears later, a similar logo was designed (not by me) for the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).OGC beforeThe redesign didn’t last long as people soon turned it on its side. (Neither did the department as it seems their website has since closed down.) It fails the ‘dirty mind’ test, which is one of the tests I apply to all copy and design work. If someone *can* misconstrue something, they undoubtedly will.OGC afterI also designed my own logo (see above). You may notice that both my names have the same number of letters with the same vowels in the same places, so I aligned them one above the other. My parents didn’t do this deliberately (they christened me Jacqueline); it’s just a happy coincidence.

My logo also includes a smiley face for positivity, as did my Comms Plus logo beforehand. It’s to represent the way I work, and the happy results I get for clients. I recognise that some people can’t cope with relentless positivity, especially at a time of uncertainty and change. So I apologise for the image below, but still think it’s iconic advice.

Keep calm and carry on
As a wordsmith, I don’t design logos for clients, however, one of the creative designers in my network will happily help. When you want a tone of voice that matches the look and feel of your brand, I’m the one to ask.




1 Comment

Jackie · June 24, 2016 at 5:06 pm

Another interesting linguistic point is the number of people asking: “What have we done?” The use of the word ‘we’ suggest unity, even with people who voted differently.

It’s like football fans complaining when their team loses: “They’ve let us down”. They identify both as ‘within’ and ‘outside’ the team at the same time.

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