In 2022, Vinted had the highest percentage of brand awareness among second-hand clothing online shop customers in the UK, according to a Statista study. While 80% of respondents were aware of Vinted, only 56% were aware of its competitor Depop.
Both apps have similar functions: they’re platforms for people to sell and buy used clothes online, with an emphasis towards the more fashionable side of second-hand retail.
However, their intended audiences, brand messaging and USPs differ, from accessible and open Vinted to uber-stylish Depop.
In this blog post, I investigate how these two resale apps define themselves through their stylistic and tonal choices. I’ll also compare them both to a fast fashion brand tone of voice and explore their differences as they battle for the attention of Gen-Z.
One of the clearest ways that brands communicate their image, values and tone of voice is through advertising.
Vinted uses one specific voice to lead their advertisement, while Depop includes multiple viewpoints and tones. This tells us something about their intended brand and the communities they wish to create.
In this Vinted advert, we hear the first person plural “we”. The protagonist does this to include the viewer when they say “we all end up with too many clothes.” They then directly address the viewer with the question “why keep the things you don’t wear any more?” This informal and friendly tone fosters a sense of relatability and inclusion.
Vinted’s advert continues to create familiarity with the viewer through the characters’ indirect comments. They’re trying on clothes and say “this one’s a bit tight,” before continuing to discuss the Vinted app.
This reflects a real-life situation in which the viewer is spending time with a friend while they try on clothes, which itself is fairly intimate. Them telling us that their clothes don’t fit is personal, and the use of the colloquial “a bit” adds to its informality.
Vinted uses short, simple words and sentences. There’s only one word in the whole ad that has more than two syllables! They call the Vinted app “fun and simple”, and say “snap, upload, and sell without fees. It’s that easy!”
These phrases, as well as the use of short words, portray the actual USP of Vinted – its simplicity. Their slogan “Don’t wear it? Sell it!” sums up Vinted’s brand: the direct address, the simple words, and the use of imperatives show us just how easy it is to use Vinted.
The “Get on Depop” advert focuses more on the buyers than the sellers. They do address the viewer, saying “if there’s one app you need to be on, it’s Depop”. However, they don’t use the collective first person plural “we” – instead, multiple individuals talk in the first person.
This means there are several tones of voice used in Depop’s marketing. Aside from the opening statement, the voices are less direct and more personal. They talk about the different ways they use Depop: “90s denim, vintage designer”; “it takes me on a wild style journey”; “my summer style is it-girl”. This variety showcases the diverse community that Depop wants to reach.
Their use of language also reflects trendiness and youth. Phrases like “expect iconic-ness” and “it-girl, hot girl”, are casual, colloquial and modern neologisms that are associated with Gen-Z and internet culture.
Using them reflects Depop’s aim to be popular among the stylish younger generations, as a resale app that’s geared towards fashion. This is opposed to Vinted’s open attitude that encourages everybody to resell their clothes.
This may reduce Depop’s potential audience, as they seem less approachable to the everyday second-hand seller and shopper.
When comparing adverts between these two second-hand clothes apps and first-hand fast fashion brands, the difference is clear.
In most of the highest-viewed video adverts for H&M, Shein and Zara on YouTube, there was no dialogue at all! In these cases, the videography, setting, clothing and body language of the models all express aspects of the brand. However, when it comes to tone of voice, they’re not telling us much.
There was one video advert by H&M which explicitly discusses their Conscious Exclusive range, which we’ve dissected below.
In this advert, H&M’s brand tone of voice is authoritative and seems to imply revolutionary ideas.
Like Vinted, they use the first-person plural “we”. However, in their case, “we” means H&M. They use repetition to imply that they have many ideas and aims, despite the content of each repetition being similar.
The noun “some”, as in “where some see rubbish”, positions H&M against an unidentified “other” and literally sets them apart through their choice of language. This differentiates H&M from the two resale apps because Vinted and Depop don’t refer to themselves as brands in the first person, so they can’t directly state their own views or ideas.
When H&M do include the audience, it’s to say “let’s wear the waste”. This contrasts Vinted and Depop who use second-person plural imperatives (“sell it!”) to simplify their language. H&M instead uses a first-person plural to encourage viewers to join them in their movement.
This highlights the difference between Vinted and Depop as resale platforms rather than fashion brands. The resale apps’ communities speak for themselves, amongst themselves, discussing the tools they use to resell (Vinted and Depop). Their adverts in which one or multiple app users speak about using the app reflect their desire for community-led branding, even if the adverts are not really made by their users.
Meanwhile, H&M presents itself as an entity with its own ideas and values, then asks consumers to agree and join them without giving them as much agency to present their own experience of the brand.
The keyword rankings for Vinted and Depop can hint towards how successful the brands are in portraying their intentions. As they’re competing for similar non-branded terms, we analyse what their results can tell us about SEO for fashion brands.
Looking at the non-brand top positions secured by Vinted, we can see that in most cases, Depop isn’t too far behind. The reverse is true too.
The keywords that Vinted and Depop rank highly for do reflect their tone of voice, aims and USPs. Vinted focuses on selling, as we saw in their advert. They also have features like no fees for sellers. In the keyword results, Vinted ranks first for more keywords related to selling clothes, showing us how these aspects feed into one another.
While Depop ranks well for some selling-related keywords, most of their top results are for direct mentions of buying and searches for specific clothes. This reflects their focus on fashion, similar to their adverts.
When exploring rankings in order of lower search volume, we spot many potential SEO battlegrounds for highly specific, longtail searches.
In these cases, customers are showing intent to buy with specific queries for brands, clothing types, patterns, and designs.
For the experts at Vinted and Depop – and those aiming to appear in this search landscape – this information should inform their fashion brand content ideas, decisions about the type of keywords to pursue and how they can support their targeted content strategy.
Knowing which brands will bring profitable customers is key to a successful SEO strategy, but it needs to be implemented in a way that fits the brand’s values, intentions, and key messages.
A brand’s tone of voice is essential to establishing an identity, broadcasting values and securing an audience. Not only can it make a brand likeable, relatable, or elite; it can actually portray a service’s USP. In the case of Vinted, their word choice directly reflects their simple processes – something they’d like us to remember.
Meanwhile, fast fashion companies may want to appear elite by not directly speaking to their audiences. In the case of H&M, the company’s vision is shown by the use of “we” to build its own identity, while pushing other brands away.
These examples highlight the difference that tone of voice can make to branding, inclusivity and the expression of brand values.
At ICS-digital, our editorial and content experts craft and uphold the tone of voice of each brand we work with while focusing on a holistic SEO strategy.
Whether it’s for marketing copy, on-site text, or SEO-focused content, get in touch to find out how we can help you.