Is it possible to change the colors of a symbol in a document without breaking the link with its original shape.
Eg.: I have a square a symbol. I have two I races of them in my document. I want on black with a red stroke and the other one yellow with a green stroke. But if I edit the symbol to say, a circle, I want all of them to be updated (but keeping their colors).
PS: Using the appearance panel to change the overall background of the symbol is not an option since (1) it doesn’t allow to change the overprint properties and (2) what if I have multiple shapes of different colors in my symbol.
Note This answer is from 2012. Things have since changed.
Adobe has implemented Dynamic Symbols in Illustrator CC, which allow for further editing than was previously possible. See here: Adobe Help for help implementing dynamic symbols and changing colors of symbol instances.
Previous answer, related primarily to Illustrator CS6 or older.
No. You can’t have multiple, differing, iterations of the same symbol. You can use the Symbol tools, like the Symbol Stainer, but that won’t allow specific color assignments within any symbol.
If you need different colored symbols, you need different symbols.
You can easily swap symbols. Select a symbol on the artboard and then use the Control bar to swap with another symbol.