Josh Belhumeur is Managing Partner at Brink, a creative group that uses culturally relevant art content and experiences through a variety of initiatives to engage audiences and build brands for products, political candidates, and progressive causes.
In this interview, Josh explains how his agency, which started as three guys in a Tucson garage doing web development, evolved into a full-service, “all things media, all things internet, all things digital” agency with attitude and two physical locations. Only recently has the leadership at Brink started to understand who they are, who they want to be, and what they want to create . . . and it is the nexus between brand development and socially-responsible advocacy.
A consultancy branch of the organization works with C-suite level executives to discern product market fit and develop an organization’s ability to innovate. An indie film “wing” distributes about 150 titles worldwide and on subscription platforms.
On the agency side, client-focused teams (a UX lead, an art lead, a producer, and a strategist)
- Help brands identify their purpose and bring that purpose to market
- Produce excellent, timely, relevant, and digitally-rooted creative work
Josh joined Brink (2006) to work on strategy and business development. He moved to Washington, D.C. to expand the agency’s client base and found “a lot of government, a lot of politics, a lot of advocacy” and a lot of “learning.” In Washington, organizations often align under the same brand – a for-profit, a nonprofit, and a super Political Action Committee – separate entities, but run side by side. This provides the flexibility for the organization’s “branches” to have separate missions and do different things while utilizing the same internal knowledge and resources.
Brink grew up with the internet. Around a year and a half ago, troubled by the power of the internet to distort truth, Brink launched a 501(c)(3), now managed by Josh’s partner, to address what Josh refers to as the 4 destructive forces of the internet/ social media:
- The filter bubble: Social media platforms will push content to you that matches your beliefs. You are more likely to interact with this content. They make more money
- The sensationalist skew: People are more likely to react to the outrageous. Again, more money
- Binary thinking: Digital platforms will push people into little boxes. If Facebook senses you are considering buying a home, its algorithms will push content related to home-buying.
- Unclear authority: The proliferation of fake news makes it hard to know who and what to believe.
The goal of the Brink Foundation is to educate people on these four destructive forces and then target messages to offset the harmful effects of the internet and reduce political polarization. Knowing their “purpose” has lost clients for Brink . . . but gained new clients who are better aligned with the agency’s interests. Win-win.
Brink’s unique value ad? The ability to work with brands, introduce activism, help them brands guild out activism programs, and unify that activism into their brand strategy. According to Josh, “Being an activist brand is the strongest way you can find a tribe.”
Josh can be reached on his agency’s website at: https://brink.com/ , where you will find information on the agency, the consultancy, their films, and the Brink Foundation.