Once in a while, you’ll read something really simple that freshens up your thinking.

It happened to me yesterday. A copy of How Words Work by Verbal Identity’s Chris West dropped through my letterbox, and I was interested by page one and hooked by page two.

This is what I loved:

Then the guy – a kid really – speaks up. He has a plan that will double the sales of shampoo. He tells them, look at at the instructions on the back of the bottle. The instructions tell the consumer to wet the hair, put in a dab of shampoo, lather and rinse. And the kid says, they should add one word. After ‘rinse’, they should put a full stop and then put in the word ‘Repeat’.

Beautiful in its simplicity and devastatingly effective, that little anecdote opened my eyes. I’ve read that shampoo bottle thousands of times over the last 40 years or so, and not once did it occur to me I was seeing marketing in action.

And that’s what’s so good about this little book. It is filled with simple but devastatingly effective ideas. It’s not a manual, it’s more a companion that freshens up your thinking and helps you see writing with fresh eyes.

There’s also another thing I love about it. You can read it in two ways. Take a look at this page.

You can either read the whole lot, or you can simply skim the first paragraph and the text in red. Either way you get something useful to ponder on. It’s sharp writing, cleverly structured.

How Words Work is only a few pages long, but each one is beautifully designed and full of inspiration. We copywriters often spend too much time at our desks and not enough time freshening up our thinking. This is a book that makes doing the latter both easy and highly enjoyable. Recommended.