Creating intrigue to capture attention

Sometimes it makes sense to intrigue an audience. A cover that’s a bit cryptic and says ‘can you guess what I’m about?’ might be just what’s needed to persuade the audience to take notice – particularly in a cluttered environment when audiences don’t know that you have something interesting to say.

But intrigue only works when there’s a pay-off. There needs to be a moment of discovery – when the audience makes the connection and realises the logic behind the message. That’s the moment when the message makes sense – and the moment when the message becomes memorable.

When the intrigue doesn’t work, the message doesn’t work either. If the audience is left wondering how or why there’s a relationship between the intrigue/picture/initial message and the follow-through, then the communication falls flat.

I picked up this postcard recently:

I thought it was going to have something clever to say about fair trade coffee. But, no, it’s not about coffee at all. It’s about paying tax fairly and not contributing to the cash economy. For me, this is a mis-matched message – the link between fair trade and coffee is too strong for a message about fair trade and tax to work.
Intrigue can be a successful way to capture attention. It’s the grab the gets people to take notice in the first place. But successful intrigue has a real (and preferably clever) connection to the underlying topic.