The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song is one of those timeless classics. In fact, I love it so much, I recently awarded it the top spot on a podcast where I ranked the top five ’90s sitcom theme songs. Whether you’re listening to it on your couch or at the bar, you can’t help but bop along.
Most sitcom intros are set to a feel-good track, like Full House’s “Everywhere You Look” or Friends, “I”ll Be There For You”. But The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song takes us on a journey with a story. In fact, “story” is mentioned in the first line in the song.
I’m sure I don’t have to remind you, but it starts off like this:
Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air
This first verse sets the stage and the visuals in the opening credits illustrate the storyline.
But what if the Fresh Prince theme song went a little differently? What if the lyrics said:
Now, this is a story all about how
My life was perfect and everything was fine?
You wouldn’t have a story. There’d be no plot — nothing to hook in the audience or inspire them to stick around to see what happens next.
Instead, we learned that Will Smith was facing a problem in his life that got flipped-tuned upside down.
The Problem with “No Problem”
So what can marketers learn from a teenager from Philly who got caught up in some trouble on the playground?
In our industry, our job is to make ourselves or brands looks good, right? We want people to hire us, work with us, or buy from us, so it’s important to demonstrate you’re the perfect fit or solution.
But if you really want to build a bond with potential employers, clients, or customers, you have to share your full story — the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s not perfection, but imperfection, that will make them connect with you.
More often, marketers need to resist the urge to create flashy, sexy marketing, and instead go the more human route. Problems, struggles, and conflicts certainly aren’t glamorous, but they’re interesting. When you give the audience a story about a challenge you’ve faced, the more credible you’ll seem when you share how you overcame it.
A brand that is built on this foundation is Humans of New York. If you’re not familiar with Humans of New York, it began as a photography project by Brandon Stanton in 2010. He set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and along the way, he started interviewing them. He then shared quotes and short stories about his subjects on his blog and social media. The Instagram account alone has 11 million followers.
Humans of New York isn’t popular because it shares fluffy motivational quotes or uplifting stories of success. No topic is off the table — from divorce, to suicide, illness, loss, homelessness, and racism. With every story follows a slew of comments from people who can relate.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: stories like this are far too sad or serious to share with my audience. But these aren’t sad stories — they are triumphant stories. Every story ends with a message of strength and resilience.
You can capture that exact magic when telling your personal story, your company story, or your customer’s story. No matter what type of struggle or challenge unfolds in the story, the ending will foster a moment of celebration, connection, or pride.
Here’s are some tips to help you share better stories and testimonials:
Start from the beginning.
You think this would be a no-brainer, but more often than not, we skip right to the highlights. When your audience understands where you’ve been, the more they can appreciate where you are now.
Include a photo of the subject or interviewee.
Your audience wants to put a face to the story, and a quote means so much more when you can see who said it. Also, research indicates that pictures increase trust.
Do you think Will Smith LIKED telling the story about his mom kicking him out of the house to live with his aunt and uncle in Bel-Air? No, but the most compelling stories shine a light on challenges or the uncomfortable.
Illustrate a transformation.
We always enjoy transformational content because it’s clear to see the full story of before and after or then vs. now. If you can, complement written stories with visuals to show growth or change.
Sometimes, to tell a great story, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. But it’s these raw and authentic moments that your audience will resonate with most. So take it from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and share more of how your life got flipped-turned-upside-down. It will certainly make your brand more memorable.
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