Abstract:The purpose of this study is to discuss the concepts of brand identity and brand image from a brand extension perspective in the higher education sector. It addresses how consumers identify and transfer the parent university's brand identity into the extended brand image of an international satellite branch, and further explores the underlying causes of the backward reciprocal transfer from the extension to parent brand. The interview results reveal that the identity-image linkage is influenced by consumers' perceived congruence and legitimacy of the brand extension. Other than the impact of functional, symbolic, and self-image congruence between the parent brand and extension, the main factors of extension legitimacy are: regulative legitimacy, brand extension authenticity, desirable values to audiences, and cultural adaptation. The findings also suggest the importance of marketing exposure, exploitation avoidance, and resource transfer in enhancing the reciprocal influence of the extended brand image on the parent brand. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.