Giving human qualities to nonhumans is human nature. People refer to their cars as “she” or “he.” Boats are almost always “she.” Restaurants are “cool” or “stuck-up.” The ocean is “angry” or “calm.” The stock market can “climb” or “fall.”

People do it with companies, too, according to an Academy of Management Review article.

Apple is cool, creative, and young. Southwest Airlines is friendly. REI is outdoorsy. Harley-Davidson is a rebel. Whole Foods is healthy.

Conversely, after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Exxon became reckless and greedy. Wells Fargo became sneaky after people learned it created fake accounts to boost its bottom-line.

“People tend to see the world in human-like terms,” said Blake E. Ashforth of Arizona State University.

Read more at AOM Insights