Greenwich Associates announced its debut list of Best Brands in U.S. Commercial Banking. The list includes:

Middle Market: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BB&T, Citibank, Chase, PNC, SunTrust, US Bank, Wells Fargo

Small Business: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BB&T, Chase, PNC, SunTrust, TD Bank, US Bank, Wells Fargo

Greenwich Associates also named Best Brand in several specific categories and products. Across small business and middle market banking, BB&T and PNC won the most designations at 10 each, followed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, US Bank and Wells Fargo at nine and SunTrust and Chase at eight.

“The Best Brand designations are based on Greenwich Associates annual research with more than 17,000 interviews with decision makers for banking services at small businesses and nearly 14,000 interviews with middle-market companies,” says Greenwich Associates consultant Marc Harrison. “Best Brand Overall winners are cited most frequently by these companies as banks they would consider using for any business or commercial banking product.”

The research demonstrates that bank brand strength is an increasingly important asset in the post-crisis period. Banks may have begun to regain trust lost during the credit crunch, but some of the damage to bank brands still lingers. Since much of that damage centered on banks’ willingness, or unwillingness, to lend, industry perceptions of bank lending policies play a big role in determining brand strength.

However, in recent months another important factor has come into play: ease of doing business with the banks. New regulations and documentation requirements have unleashed a flood of compliance, risk management, audit and other demands that can make applying for and receiving a loan a time-consuming and frustrating task.

“In 2014, there is an opportunity for banks that are able to differentiate themselves from competitors by helping clients cut through the paperwork and avoid headaches,” says Greenwich Associates consultant Don Raftery.