In an explosive open letter to their former employers shared on Twitter, 61 former employees of the craft beer manufacturers Brewdog accused the company's founders of creating a ‘culture of fear' at the organisation. The letter stated that, contrary to the employer's claims that they were ‘the best employer in the world', the experience of employees themselves felt very different. From tackling climate change to fighting for free speech to supporting charities, the letter also listed numerous occasions where employees felt that the company was not living the values it purported to uphold.

It's Brewdog's name that has been splashed across the headlines, but they are not alone in this. The ensuing scandal highlighted an issue many businesses grapple with. There is often a disconnect between brand and culture - between the external face the brand presents and the internal workings of the organisation.

What many organisations don't understand is that brand and culture are intertwined. The external persona of an organisation must be aligned with the culture and ethos of the organisation.  It's also a recipe for disaster when leaders focus solely on outcomes and not on how to go about achieving these. Brewdog has a very strong brand identity and a clear purpose but has failed to align their purpose, culture and brand identity leading to disastrous consequences. If a company's culture is toxic, it has the potential to derail the entire business.  Whereas a strong culture has the power to propel a brand, driving positive organisational outcomes and giving it a competitive advantage over peers.

So how can Brewdog bounceback?

A crisis like the one Brewdog has experienced can often fundamentally disrupt an organisation. Whether these events are controllable or uncontrollable they often have big impact on a business's ability to perform. Recovering from such an event depends entirely on the culture of the business.

Three features of culture that are key to surviving crises are; resilience (taking charge of the things that we can control and acknowledge what we can't), a growth mindset (learning from errors and leaning into the unknown) and finally adaptability (quickly pivoting one's approach to respond to the changing circumstances).

In dealing with a crisis, we must focus on the reaction to the event not just the event itself. It is this response that can leave businesses paralysed to dealing with the crisis at hand. The following are key things a business can do:

Give direction: People need to know what they can do to manage the transition and construct a positive future. Create a roadmap with clear accountabilities and objectives.

Over-communicate: Keep telling people what your organisation's position is on the current situation. Clearly define a change communication strategy.

Be present: People need leaders to be visible and engaged. Equip your leaders with the capability and tools to engage in difficult yet supportive discussions.

Create a learning environment: Refrain from apportioning blame and rather create psychological safety. Organisations that can learn from the crises are more likely to survive and thrive.

Focus on the long term: The short-term solutions may alleviate the immediate pain, use this as an opportunity to engage in a process of transforming the way you do business.

Dr. Ajit Menon is the author of What Lies Beneath: How Organisations Really Work  out now and is the co-founder of organisational consultancy Blacklight Advisory