Combining UGC & Brand-Led Creative: The Best of Both Worlds

With authenticity top of mind, brands have started giving user-generated content (UGC) a bigger role within their creative strategy. In doing so, marketers have been able to recapture engagement from audiences that have become disenfranchised by traditional ads.

But how big should UGC’s role be within your creative strategy? Should you ditch traditional brand-led creative completely?

This article answers these questions. First, we will look at both UGC-led and brand-led creative, exploring the characteristics and benefits of both. Then we will explore why an effective creative strategy requires a combination of both UGC and brand-led creative.


What is UGC-led creative? 

UGC-led creative is ad creative that is produced primarily using UGC footage. This footage can either be organic, unprompted UGC; or simulated UGC supplied by UGC creators. 

Using UGC to fuel your creative enables you to engage your audience through the content’s authenticity and relatability. Audiences crave this from brands, with 88% of consumers citing authenticity as a key factor when deciding which brands they like and support. 

UGC-led creative achieves authenticity and relatability in two key ways. 

The first is that they feature real, everyday people in scenarios that reflect the lives of the audiences watching. This humanizes the creative and builds trust.

The second is that UGC-led creative matches the look and feel of the organic content that audiences know and love. The best UGC-led creative taps into organic trends and draws on established narrative frameworks such as testimonials, unboxings, and try-ons.


What is brand-led creative? 

Brand-led creative is the standard, bread-and-butter creative that marketers have been producing since the dawn of advertising. This type of creative made with traditional assets built by the brand itself or through an agency. For example, imagery from photoshoots, key visuals, TVCs, animations, etc. 

Brand-led creative provides marketers with control and consistency, enabling them to convey their message with precision. 

When working with UGC, you have to relinquish a little bit of control when it comes to your brand guidelines. However, for certain campaigns, you need to make sure your brand is front and center – this is when brand-led creative is the route to take.

UGC & Brand-led Creative

An effective creative strategy combines both UGC & brand-led content

As a marketer, you shouldn’t view UGC-led and brand-led creative as mutually exclusive. It’s not an either-or decision – you should be using both. 

Both have strengths suited towards different campaign objectives, target audiences, or platforms. For example, if you’re targeting Gen Z audiences on TikTok, UGC-led creative is likely to be more effective. However, if you’re targeting a middle-age audience on Pinterest, then brand-led creative is probably the way to go.

Below you can see two pieces of creative that KOHO produced with Shuttlerock. 

On the left is a UGC-led video built for TikTok. It uses testimonial-style UGC footage, along with TikTok-native editing techniques such as the green effect to display app visuals. On the right is brand-led creative built for Facebook In-Feed. In this example, KOHO could be very precise with their messaging, clearly conveying the benefits of the app.

So, you can see above that different types of creative work depending on the situation. 

But the right option isn’t always clear – this isn’t an exact science. In this case, there are two strategies that marketers can adopt: (1) blend UGC and branded content within the same creative; (2) test both UGC and brand-led approaches against each other within the same ad set/group. 


1. Blend UGC & branded content within the same creative


As a marketer, you don’t need to commit to one approach. You can combine both UGC and branded content within the same creative. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any UGC-led creative that’s completely devoid of branded elements such as logos, product images, or fonts. 

But you can take this further by blending UGC with larger brand elements such as studio-shot footage and key visuals. An example of this is shown above with a video that Palmer’s produced with Shuttlerock.


2. Test both UGC and brand-led approaches in parallel

Another effective creative strategy is to produce both UGC and brand-led creative and test them against one another within the same ad set/group. 

This allows you to see which type of creative your audience is more receptive to. A side benefit of this approach is that it also helps to diversify your creative, helping reduce fatigue.


Get the best of both worlds, with Shuttlerock

At Shuttlerock, we can help you execute an effective creative strategy that combines both UGC and brand-led creative. 

We can help you remix any existing brand assets into optimized video creative for any digital platform. We can also help you remix UGC, if you have it. And if you don’t, you can use our UGC solution to connect with UGC creators and produce quality, UGC-powered creative. 

To learn more about Shuttlerock’s full creative solution, please either request a demo or contact one of our crew.

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