...making everything look like a stylized logo makes it appear more like a collection of gas station brands than state flags.
Gas station brands indeed. Or airline logos. Taken individually, most of them are just bad. Taken as a group, they pretty much eliminate any point of having a state flag at all, since they all look basically the same, and most don't even have a single distinctive element that you could throw on a hat or a T-shirt or what have you. Looking at the four states I've lived in:
New York: OK, New York's current flag is just the seal on a blue field, which is awful, but look at this new one. I understand the urge to put the Statue of Liberty's crown on there, but if we're going for unity, we shouldn't antagonize New Jersey, which has a long-standing feud with New York over what state the statue is in. And those red and white borders on two sides would look nice on a brochure for health insurance, but they don't belong on this flag. And great, throw in a red star just because. What?
Pennsylvania: Also a terrible current flag, sure. But here, "A nib of a pen occupies the lefthand side, representing the signing of the Declaration of Independence." A pen? Seriously? Not the Liberty Bell, not Independence Hall, but a pen? And the red stars make it look too much like the flag of Chicago. And again with extraneous elements. Why the blue line? Is it a river?
California: I cannot even begin to explain how bad the new one is. If one were to change California's flag, the thing to do would be to remove the text and maybe simplify the bear a bit, but it's a pretty recognizable flag that doesn't need a complete overhaul into blandness and abstract symbolism.
South Carolina: This one is one of the greatest tragedies of the bunch. South Carolina's current flag is iconic within the state. It's everywhere. It's on beach chairs, it's on beer coozies, everywhere. Because it's already pretty simple and symbolic, it's unique to the state, and it looks good. The new one has all of the problems of the others, but with the added crime of throwing out almost everything that makes the current flag great.