From AI chatbots that can simulate meaningful relationships, to algorithms that know our taste better than we do, technology is fast reshaping roles previously reserved for humans.  But not all technology aims to replicate what’s human…  

Instead, emergently in consumer tech there are products that aim to redefine the relationship between human and tech; to assail fears of being replaced through signalling that they can give us more agency to enhance our abilities and experiences. In short? To make tech less out-source, more resource.  

One such brand is Nothing, confidently taking an elusive and non-descript name, cueing a lack of form or emptiness. It requires us (the humans) to give it meaning. Here we look at semiotic queues – how Nothing looks, what it says – to analyse how Nothing takes up a position in this shift to a more collaborative and empathetic relationship between humans and their technology. 

Code 1: Extraordinary Transparency  

Cutting-edge tech is an exciting part of Nothings’ product proposition, but by establishing transparency and humanity in its branding, its users feel familiarity (not fear or intimidation) towards it. 

Nothing uses nature and transparency (matching to visuals in wider culture)

We see images of animals holding up Nothing products, and this suggests worship and positions it as a powerful resource yet still part of nature. On an even friendlier note, technical diagrams – like blueprints or instruction manuals – suggests the brand wants you to develop an in-depth understanding of its products. Meanwhile, revealing people (and animals) beneath translucent packaging symbolises transparency, signalling that consumers’ participation is key to unlocking the power of Nothing’s tech. This provides a sense of reassurance or comfort, coding Nothing again as tech that should be familiar to its user. 

These semiotic cues of power and transparency combine to present Nothing as a powerful tool with beyond-human capabilities. 

Code 2: Curious Discovery 

In redirecting its innovation away from power and dominance, to one of curious discovery, Nothing communicates that its powerful products are built to enhance, rather than replace human experience. 

Nothing signals this by blurring the lines between human and mechanical. We see this in the suggestions of a cyborg-like relationship between the tech and human: a person in white and turquoise dress, calling doctors to mind, while stark white lighting feels sterile and scientific. Phone cameras held over the eye position the device as an extension of the senses – and resembles looking through a magnifying glass, evoking curiosity or discovery.  

Nothing uses discovery (often led by children in wider culture) to remind us that more subtle feelings are valued

Words and images codes this product as fun and intuitive: “play date”; “bringing joy back into the everyday”; and the fish-eye lens and exaggerated expressions adds a self-aware silliness to editorial visuals. Nothing establishes a co-creative bond between living things and its technology by coding its products as tools for curious discovery. 

Code 3: Inclusive Nostalgia 

Tech as superior and exclusive (whether Tesla or the Tech Titans and their rockets) isn’t a good look right now, and Nothing clearly sets itself apart from this by coding its products as familiar, authentic, and inclusive.  

We see saturated, grainy visuals reminiscent of old film photographs and they evoke warm feelings of nostalgia, while thin serif fonts are quiet, unfussy and easy to read. This makes Nothing relatable, inclusive and accessible, especially when the campaigns feature diverse models. The Nothing products are intended for all.  

Nothing uses nostalgia (a popular trend in wider culture right now) to humanise

Meanwhile, there’s another clear line drawn between Nothing and dominant tech brands, who rely on conventionally masculine, dark, and impersonal visuals to create distance and establish power over the viewer. Instead, here are people with their backs turned to the camera or looking away, and with candid and unthreatening expressions. While images of doe-eyed individuals captured from above evoke a sense of innocence. Showing this vulnerability humanises the brand and shifts the power from brand to consumer. 


All together, these semiotic signals of vulnerability, inclusivity, and authenticity code Nothing’s tech as human-first – and dare we say, even taking us back to a time when we felt optimistic about what tech can do for us (rather than fearful).  

Through visuals and language, Nothing portrays itself as a brand that is here to enhance the human experiences and bring us joy and fulfilment. They encourage us to form a new, human-centred relationship with tech by prioritising our needs for accessibility, collaboration, and curiosity. 

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