Everything You Need to Know About Branded Content vs UGC Marketing

January 15, 2024

Whenever you're rolling out your new campaign, it's important to strike a balance between user-generated content and branded content in order to fully capitalize on new or returning customers. Having said that, this can raise a lot of questions for your upcoming campaign. Whether you're starting from square one or just want to learn about the pros and cons of both marketing strategies, we've got you covered. 

Everything About User-Generated Content

Here at Bambassadors, we've got you covered on everything UGC, but it's important to have a quick refresher every once in a while.

User-generated content, also known as UGC, is an absolute must when it comes to deploying a marketing campaign. It's something every newcomer looks for. The reason for this is because it doesn't come from the brand, it comes from the users and customers themselves. It's not just in one format; UGC can be seen in various formats, such as:

Social Media

Getting in touch with the online world starts right at your social media accounts. With the digital world of online shopping growing every day, you need to ensure you have a presence on as many platforms as you see fit. This includes platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. This is the common ground where brands and the consumer can interact on a daily basis. 

Example: Disney

There are thousands of hashtag campaigns that have been executed beautifully over the years on various social media platforms. The Disney campaign that started the #ShareYourEars needs to be mentioned. Of course, this will easily promote Disney's voice over social media, but have you ever visited their parks? They don't need any more attention; they have grasped the attention of millions across the globe. So why do a hashtag campaign? Disney started this campaign as a partnership between them and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For every post that had this hashtag,  they would donate 5 dollars to the foundation and help those in need. This campaign generated over four hundred thousand posts and gave over two million to those in need. Obviously, you might not have the budget to do something like that, but having a message behind your hashtag can really grow the movement. 


Whenever I'm making a bigger purchase for my home, such as a new vacuum or a blender for my morning smoothie, chances are I'm looking on YouTube to find someone who's tested it for themselves. This type of UGC content can easily sway the verdict in your favour and help make the consumer's decision. You will typically find demonstrations in the format of step-by-step guides, a how-to video or even a creative DIY using your product. It's always a good idea to add some of these to your website to provide more social proof

Example: Vitamix 

This video made by BlenderBabes is a perfect example of how the demonstration of a certain model, or, in this case, all models, can influence your purchasing decision. This also gets people talking in the comments about their own experiences, influencing the consumer even more.

Reviews and Testimonials 

With almost every shopper looking for reviews before they complete their purchase, it's vital to showcase your previous reviews and testimonials. This type of UGC is usually found on the brand's website landing pages, social media accounts, or in follow-up emails. While most formats of reviews are found in the rating or written format, it's not uncommon to find photo and video testimonials. 

Example: HexClad

Obviously, having Gordon Ramsay back your brand will put you on the map in the culinary world, a perfect example of branded content. As for UGC, HexClad still knows how important the user's voice really is. They made sure to showcase the user's reviews front and center on their website landing page. This makes the purchasing decision ten times easier for any customer.

Having this in your arsenal can create a sense of trust and further develop a community for your brand. It continues to dominate as it benefits the user and the brand. It's a perfect marriage: the brand gets free content, and the user gets a chance to be reposted and showcased through the brand's social media platforms. 

The Pros and Cons of UGC

While I'll try to list an equal amount of pros and cons when it comes to UGC, remember that the pros, without a doubt, outweigh some of the cons that can occur with UGC.


Diverse Content: UGC provides a wide range of perspectives, opinions, and content, contributing to a more diverse online landscape.

Engagement: It fosters user engagement and interaction, as individuals become active participants rather than passive consumers.

Authenticity: UGC often feels more authentic, as it reflects users' real experiences and opinions.

Cost-Effective: Creating UGC is usually cost-effective for businesses, as users voluntarily contribute content.


Quality Control: Ensuring the quality of UGC can be challenging, as content varies widely in terms of accuracy, relevance, and appropriateness.

Legal Issues: There may be legal concerns related to copyright infringement, privacy violations, or offensive content in UGC.

Brand Image: Brands might face challenges in maintaining a consistent brand image when relying heavily on UGC, as content is not directly controlled.

Spam and Misinformation: UGC platforms are susceptible to spam and the spread of misinformation, which can harm the credibility of the content that is  shared.

Everything About Branded Content

You've probably put two and two together by now and realized that branded content is produced by the brand itself rather than its users. This content is produced and carefully thought out to portray the brand's image, message, products, and other services. Branded content can be made in-house by the creative team or through third-party agencies that will help you roll out your campaign. Typically, UGC and branded content can be found in very similar styles, but some of the most common forms of branded content include the following:

Photo and Video Format

Whenever you're planning on launching a new, never-seen-before product, it's a good idea to have professionally captured videos and photos of the product. These photos and videos can be very versatile and can showcase the different sides of your product through highlighting key features, multiple angles, design, packaging, and even educational posts. You name it; the options are endless.

Example: Poppi

The reason Poppi is such a good example is because it's simply a drink, that's it. Their branded content is creative and fun. For such a simple item, they're able to capture the user's attention through bright colours and text that embody the brand's image. 

All the Info on Graphs 

Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and there's a reason why the saying 'A picture is worth a thousand words'' is still around. Infographics, charts, diagrams, and other visual elements are employed by brands to convey information or data in a visually engaging and comprehensible format. These graphics are shareable on websites and social media or can be seamlessly integrated into presentations for the effective communication of intricate information.

Example: Listerine

Seriously, you already have enough trouble getting the average person to floss their teeth, so why would anyone read about mouthwash? They're probably never going to unless you make an eye-catching graphic with the basic key points. The main reason for these info graphs is to display the key point front and center while capturing the user's attention. Listerine has done just that. 


Social Media

Your branded content should be everywhere; there's no need to overlook your social media accounts. Branded content on your social media account can literally be anything you want your consumers to see. Whether it's photos or videos from your TikTok to your Linkedin, what you post will absolutely have an impact on your brand, so you better make it good. 

Example: L’Oréal Paris

L'Oréal Paris is a great example because it has recently showcased its new campaign with branded content, starting with a photoshoot fashionably highlighting its new products. 

I could easily see this being followed by a paid partnership between them and a creator to boost the reach further. This is something they have done in the past and is not a trade secret when it comes to these big brands. 


The Pros and Cons Branded Content

You need to start somewhere. It's essentially impossible to gather UGC without any branded content out there. It can be tough starting, but putting the money towards branded content that is professionally made and well thought out can capture the attention of customers who could end up making UGC for you in the future. As the brand grows, you can continue to rely more on UGC as you will have more of it. It can be scary investing in your startup, but if you don't want to buy into your own company, then why would anyone else? You need branded content at some point, but here are the pros and cons to keep in mind when taking those first steps. 


Brand Awareness: Branded content helps in building and reinforcing brand awareness, making the brand more recognizable.

Engagement: It fosters higher audience engagement as compelling content captures attention and encourages interaction.

Storytelling Opportunities: Branded content provides a platform for storytelling, enabling brands to connect with their audience emotionally.

Differentiation: Well-executed branded content can set a brand apart from competitors by showcasing its unique values and personality.

Customer Loyalty: Creating valuable and entertaining content can enhance customer loyalty, fostering a positive relationship with the brand.


Costs: Developing high-quality branded content can be expensive, involving production costs, talent fees, and distribution expenses.

Quality Control Challenges: Maintaining consistent quality across various content pieces can be challenging, potentially affecting the brand's image.

Consumer Skepticism: Some audiences may be skeptical about branded content, especially if it's overused. Leading them to view it as promotional rather than authentic.

Over-saturation Risks: Excessive branded content can lead to audience fatigue and may be perceived as intrusive or overly promotional.

Measuring ROI: It can be challenging to measure the return on investment (ROI) of branded content, making it difficult to assess its effectiveness accurately.

UGC or Branded Content?

If you came here looking for a clear-cut winner, you've come to the wrong place. To be a long-term, successful, viable company in your respected industry, you need to have a balance of both. When starting, it can be tough to get both. Not having enough money for branded content and no customers for user-generated content. 

So, where do you start?

For UGC, try reaching out to your family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who will write a real review or post a photo to help lay the foundation for your company and build that first following. UGC taps into the authenticity of user contributions, fostering a community-driven narrative. It often thrives on genuine experiences shared by users, creating a dynamic and engaging online environment. While UGC is cost-effective and taps into the power of community, its challenge lies in maintaining quality control and aligning with brand guidelines. On the other hand, branded content offers brands complete control over messaging, ensuring strategic alignment with brand values. It allows for a curated brand narrative and maintains consistency but at the cost of production expenses. The decision between UGC and branded content often hinges on your brand's goals, with most finding success in blending both approaches to achieve a balance of authenticity and strategic messaging. Unless you have great photography skills or money for a proper campaign rollout, you'll need to continue to save while you gather the money for the campaign. Both are crucial and are an absolute must when it comes to surviving in the world of online e-commerce. 

Send Off

Hopefully, this article has helped you gain an understanding of UGC and branded content and that it's a game of finding the right balance, not one or the other. If you still have questions about UGC or anything related to marketing, check out all of our other blogs here.