Our study draws on institutional and signalling theories to postulate relationships between board characteristics and corporate reputation. Based on a sample of 324 firms featured in Fortune's list of most admired corporations in the USA, our findings indicate that board characteristics significantly influence the assessment of firm reputation by the business community. Specifically, we found that firms with a greater proportion of outside directors and those with larger boards exhibited better reputation than those with smaller boards and a higher proportion of insiders. In addition, we observed an inverted-U relationship between the average tenure of outside directors and corporate reputation. However, contrary to expectations, our findings indicate a negative association between independent leadership structure (i.e. absence of duality) and corporate reputation.