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UGC vs. Brand-Generated Content: Which Is Right for You?

When it comes to user-generated content vs. brand-generated content, which is right for you? The answer may surprise you. Learn more in this guide.
Tom Logan
May 25, 2023
April 11, 2024


 Content is an important part of any brand's marketing strategy. And with the rise of social media and online platforms, brands have a ton of content types to choose from, including UGC and brand-generated content.

When it comes to deciding between user-generated content vs. brand-generated content, which is right for you? The answer is simple: both!

In this guide, we'll discuss the benefits you can experience by leveraging both types of content. We'll show you how UGC and brand-generated content can work together to drive brand awareness, foster audience engagement, and enhance overall marketing effectiveness.

Table of Contents

What Is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content (UGC) refers to any form of content, such as images, videos, reviews, or testimonials, that's created by a brand's customers instead of the brand itself.

UGC has gained in popularity with the creation of social media and online communities, as it allows individuals to actively participate and contribute to the content creation process.

Brands can harness the power of UGC by actively encouraging and promoting the creation and sharing of user-generated content. UGC is authentic and relatable. In fact, it's often considered more trustworthy and credible compared to brand-generated content, as it comes from real customers with genuine experiences.

UGC can help build brand loyalty, generate social proof, and influence purchasing decisions by showcasing real-world experiences of a product or service.

Types of UGC

User-generated content (UGC) comes in various formats, reflecting the many ways individuals engage with brands and their products. Here are some common types of UGC:

  • Reviews and testimonials: One of the most common forms of UGC, reviews and testimonials provide firsthand accounts of a customer's experience with a product or service. They can be found on review websites, social media platforms, or even shared directly with the brand. Reviews often include ratings, written feedback, and sometimes images or videos.
  • Social media posts: Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook are great for showcasing UGC. Brands and customers often share stories about their interactions with the brand. These posts can include hashtags related to the brand or product, making them easily discoverable.
  • Unboxing and product demos: Unboxing videos have gained popularity on platforms like TikTok and YouTube, where customers film themselves unpacking and showcasing a new product. These videos often provide detailed commentary, showcasing the product's features and the customer's initial impressions. Product demos, similar to unboxing videos, involve customers showcasing how a product is used or demonstrating its features.
  • How-to guides and tutorials: UGC can also take the form of instructional content, where customers share their knowledge and expertise on using a particular product. These can include step-by-step guides, tutorials, DIY projects, or creative ways of utilizing a product.

Examples of UGC






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A post shared by Mali (like Sally) (@malifraleigh)

In this example, we see Starbucks' #RedCupContest on Instagram. Starbucks encourages customers to share their festive Starbucks red cup moments on Instagram during the holiday season.

Customers then post photos of their Starbucks red cups decorated with festive drawings, designs, or messages, along with the hashtag #RedCupContest. These customer-submitted photos showcase personal creativity, holiday spirit, and the customer's love for Starbucks.

Starbucks curates and selects winners from the UGC pool and shares some of the submissions on its social media channels. Success. @gopro #goprofamily #tractivegps #topdoggermany ♬ original sound -

This example showcases GoPro's #GoProFamily initiative on TikTok. GoPro encourages their customers to share their thrilling and adventurous GoPro footage on TikTok using the hashtag #GoProFamily.

Customers then create and upload videos on TikTok featuring their exciting adventures, extreme sports, travel moments, or any other thrilling experiences captured with their GoPro cameras.

The UGC showcases the customers' unique perspectives, skills, and adrenaline-filled moments. By using the designated hashtag, followers contribute to the #GoProFamily community and potentially get their videos featured on GoPro's official TikTok account.

What Is Brand-Generated Content?

Brand-generated content refers to any content that's created and produced by a brand or organization itself, rather than by customers.

It's content that's intentionally crafted and shared by the brand to promote its products, services, values, or messaging. Brand-generated content is often created in-house or through collaborations with creative agencies.

Types of Brand-Generated Content

There are a ton of different types of content that brands can create. For example:

  • Product photos: Brands often create professional and visually appealing photos of their products. These images showcase the product from different angles, highlighting its features, design, and packaging. Product photos are commonly used on ecommerce websites, social media platforms, and ads.
  • Product videos: Brands also produce videos that demonstrate their products in action. These videos can include product overviews, tutorials on how to use the product, testimonials, or comparisons with competitors. They aim to educate and engage the audience while showcasing the product's value and benefits.
  • Social media posts: Brands generate content specifically for social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. This can include text updates, images, videos, infographics, or memes. Social media posts engage your audience, foster conversations, and drive awareness and engagement.
  • Case studies and success stories: Brands often create case studies or success stories that highlight how their products or services benefit customers. These stories showcase real-world examples of the brand's value proposition, effectiveness, and impact.
  • Infographics and visual content: Brands use infographics, charts, diagrams, and visual content to present information or data in a visually appealing and easy-to-understand manner. These visuals can be shared on websites and social media platforms or included in presentations to convey complex information effectively.

Examples of Brand-Generated Content






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A post shared by Coca-Cola (@cocacola)

Coca-Cola's Share a Coke campaign involved personalized labels on their bottles and cans, featuring popular names and phrases.

The brand created advertisements, social media posts, and promotional materials showcasing people enjoying personalized Coke bottles. The campaign encouraged customers to share their personalized Coke bottles on social media, generating UGC that aligned with the brand's campaign and messaging.






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A post shared by BMW (@bmw)

BMW created a series of photos to showcase its new i5 M60 on Instagram, highlighting different features and showcasing the car's performance and innovation. Each photo showcases a different view of the vehicle, so potential customers can get a feel for the new design.

The Benefits of User-Generated Content vs. Brand-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) and brand-generated content each offer unique benefits that can enhance a brand's marketing efforts in different ways. Let's explore the advantages of both.

User-Generated Content Benefits

The benefits of user-generated content include:

  • Authenticity and trust: UGC is created by real customers of a brand. So, it's perceived as more authentic and trustworthy since it reflects genuine experiences and opinions. This authenticity builds trust among the audience and can positively influence their purchasing decisions.
  • Social proof: UGC serves as social proof, demonstrating that others have had positive experiences with a brand or product. When potential customers see their peers recommending or endorsing a brand through UGC, it can significantly impact their perception and increase the likelihood of conversion.
  • Enhanced engagement and community building: UGC encourages active participation from consumers, fostering a sense of community and engagement. By involving the audience in content creation, brands can build stronger relationships, increase brand loyalty, and create a dedicated fan base.
  • Diverse perspectives and creativity: UGC brings in diverse perspectives and creativity, offering fresh and unique content that brands might not have created otherwise. This diverse content can attract a broader audience, making the brand more inclusive and relatable.

Brand-Generated Content Benefits

Just like UGC, brand-generated content also has its benefits, which include:

  • Messaging control and brand consistency: Brand-generated content allows brands to have complete control over the messaging and tone of their photos and videos. It ensures that the content aligns with the brand's identity, values, and marketing objectives. This control enables consistency and reinforces the brand's image and voice.
  • Specific campaign objectives: Brand-generated content can be tailored to specific campaign objectives, product launches, or promotional activities. It allows brands to craft content that directly supports their marketing goals and communicates key messages effectively.
  • Strategic content planning: With brand-generated content, brands can strategically plan and align their content with broader marketing strategies and initiatives. This ensures that content creation is coordinated, consistent, and integrated into the brand's overall marketing efforts.

User-Generated Content vs. Brand-Generated Content: Key Differences

Of course, when comparing and contrasting user-generated content vs. brand-generated content, we also have to discuss the differences.

One key difference is the source of the content. UGC is created by customers, while brand-generated content is produced by the brand itself. While UGC builds trust through authentic customer experiences, brand-generated content allows for messaging control and brand consistency.

Another key difference is cost. UGC reduces content creation costs and allows for scalability. UGC is often created voluntarily without the need for a cash exchange. However, brand-generated content does require resources and budget allocation.

The Best Content Type: Both!

Ultimately, the ideal approach is often a combination of both UGC and brand-generated content. By leveraging UGC's authenticity and social proof alongside brand-generated content's control and professionalism, brands can create a well-rounded and effective content strategy that resonates with their audience and achieves their marketing objectives.

How Cohley Can Help

Cohley is a platform that specializes in helping you create user-generated content while maintaining a level of brand control and quality. Here's how Cohley can assist in creating UGC with brand-generated qualities:

  • Content guidelines: Cohley enables you to set specific content guidelines and instructions for creators generating UGC. You can define your desired brand aesthetics, messaging, and overall content requirements. This ensures that UGC aligns with your brand's visual identity, tone, and marketing objectives.
  • Collaboration and feedback: Cohley facilitates collaboration between you and content creators. We support you in providing feedback, suggestions, and guidance to creators throughout the content creation process. This allows for an iterative approach, ensuring that UGC meets your expectations and maintains brand-generated qualities.
  • Content approval workflow: Cohley offers a streamlined content approval workflow. You can review and approve UGC submissions before they're published or shared. This ensures that the UGC complies with brand guidelines, maintaining the desired brand quality and consistency.
  • Cost and scalability: Creating UGC with Cohley reduces content creation costs and allows for scalability. Sometimes, creating brand-generated videos, photos, and more can come with a hefty price tag. Utilizing Cohley as a content engine will help scale production and keep costs lower per asset.

Simplify Content Creation With Cohley

Are you ready to harness the power of both UGC and brand-generated content? We're here to help. To learn more about how you can create compelling and effective content for your campaigns, schedule a consultation today.


Tom Logan
Founder & CEO