Do You Remember Your First Kiss?

May 18, 2017

by Carla Johnson

First kiss.

I remember mine.

It was 7th grade. A brief chapped-lip peck that was awkward for both of us – like so many things during those middle school years of transition when you’re no longer a kid but not quite a young adult.

But I will always remember my first kiss because of the strong emotions around it. Fear. Dread. Panic. Relief.

As I share my story I guarantee one thing – you’re now replaying your first kiss. Yours may have been wonderfully romantic or as graceless as mine. Regardless, in an instant, you transcended back to that moment and relieved it in minute detail

Creating emotional clarity

It turns out, your first romantic kiss is likely to be etched in your memory forever. More than 90% of all people remember the details of their first kiss and, research points out, even more vividly than when they lost their virginity.

Researchers from the University of Toronto studied why this happens. Why people can remember intricate details of something that happened long ago but not what they ate for breakfast.

“We see things that are emotionally arousing with greater clarity than those that are more mundane,” said lead author Rebecca Todd, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology. “Whether they’re positive – for example, a first kiss, the birth of a child, winning an award – or negative, such as traumatic events, breakups, or a painful and humiliating childhood moment that we all carry with us, the effect is the same.

“What’s more, we found that how vividly we perceive something in the first place predicts how vividly we remember it later on.”

Think about what happened when you read my story. It made a connection to your own first kiss, which brought you into my story a little deeper. Love scenes in movies and novels do the same thing. We relate to the stories because we share the experiences.

First kiss with your brand

This is how we need to think of the experiences we create with our brand. Instead of just telling stories, we need to facilitate opportunities to have experiences with our brand. Experiences that have emotional and physical responses.

When people have that ‘first kiss’ with our brand, they’re much more likely to share it with a friend. And probably encourage that friend to have the same experience.

When we ask someone, “Where did you go on vacation?” We’re probing for a first-kiss experience.

When buyers do due diligence on a product or service, they’re also digging for first kiss experiences. Was that experience awkward? Breathtaking? Panic-driven? Romantic? Do you go back for a second kiss? Third? Forth?

Keep them kissing

I’ve kissed a lot of people since 7th grade. The man who became my husband. My dad when we found out he had cancer and only months to live. My three children when they were born. My mother after a stroke. Dear friends I hadn’t seen for decades and others I see nearly every day.

Kissing is something we re-experience over and over again, in many different ways. This is the dynamic we need to create with our brand – experiences that people want to re-experience again and again, then share with other people.

How about you. Do your brand experiences inspire people to kiss and tell?

Photo credit: Flickr user Vladimir Kud 

About Carla Johnson


Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.

Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands has served as the foundation for many of her books.

In her latest project, Fast Forward Files, she contributes to a larger collection of thoughts by some of the world’s greatest minds -  Shazam co-founder Dhiraj Mukherjee, activist and entrepreneur Heather Mills and behavioral designer, technologist and mental-health champion Peter Trainor. Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. 

Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.